Shore Conference Girls Soccer Teams Vying For State Titles By Eric Braun

After a grueling two months of mini-camps, scrimmages, regular-season games and conference tournaments, 36 teams punched their tickets to the NJSIAA tournament in hopes of being the last one standing in their respective groups.

The surprise team of them all has to be the play of the up-and-coming Trinity Hall program that has punched their ticket to the South Jersey Non-Public B semifinal game to be held Tuesday against top ranked Wardlaw-Hartridge. Trinity Hall beat fifth- seeded Our Lady of Mercy, 3-0, with all three goals coming in the second half.  Next up for the Hall was No. 4 Holy Cross Prep and again they posted three goals, this time from Alexis Nerenberg, Katie Venezia and Maggie Ward.  The wins now boost their overall record to 7-8-2 and has them thinking why not us.

A favorite heading into the South Jersey Non-Public B tournament is the group from St. Rose, who entered with a record of 11-2-1. The Purple Roses once again have their title hopes within reach as they have advanced to the semifinals against No. 2 Rutgers Prep on Tuesday. St. Rose beat No. 14 Saint Joseph, 8-0, behind scoring from Caroline Caputo (three goals), Claire Cinquegrana, Lauren Hickey, Emily Lankau, Julianne Leskauskas and Emma Mcghee. Next up was No. 6 Timothy Christian, whom the Roses put away easily with a score of 7-0, behind scoring from Leskauskas (three goals), Caputo, Hickey and Lankau. 

Red Bank Catholic has shaken off their Shore Conference Tournament loss and has advanced to the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals on Tuesday against Mount Saint Mary.  The Caseys, the top seed in the group, earned a first-round bye before knocking off No. 9 Paul VI, 4-2, behind scoring from Morgan Cupo, Caroline O’Connor, Casey Pavlick and Juliana Rafaniello.

South Jersey Group 3 has Toms River South looking to finish strong as they advanced to the semifinals to be played Tuesday against No. 2 Mainland. The Indians improved to 12-3-3 on the season after beating 14th-seeded Timber Creek, 4-1, behind scoring from Alyia Canfield (two goals) and Shayla Scully (two goals).  The win set up a showdown with No. 11 Seneca, whom the Indians put away early by scoring three first-half goals from Canfield, Caitlin Carroll and Zya Sosa to hold on for a 3-2 win.

In North Jersey 2, Group 3, top-seeded Middletown North has shown no let down after their disappointing loss to Toms River North in the Shore Conference Tournament as the Lions have outscored their two state tournament opponents, 10-0.  Middletown North knocked off Woodbridge, 8-0, and then faced No. 9 Middletown South again, and again topped the Eagles, this time, 2-0.  In the two games, the Lions have gotten scoring from Ashley Dietrich (two goals), Kaleigh Harmon (two goals), Jamie Inacio, Olivia Kelly, Katelyn Reid, Hayley Straton and Darien Rinn (two goals).  Next up for Middletown North is No. 4 West Morris in Tuesday’s semifinal.

A team no stranger to tournament success the past couple of seasons is Freehold Township, who once again is finding their groove late in the season.  The No. 5 Patriots knocked off No. 12 South Brunswick and No. 13 Hightstown, and now face top-seeded Hunterdon Central on Tuesday. Freehold Township, now with a record of 14-4-1, are led by Kat O’Brien, Anna Priborkina (two goals), Lauren Speck, Jen Weinstock and Gabby Zuczek and Ryan Leohner (three goals), so far in the state tournament.

In Central Jersey Group 3, a pair of Shore Conference teams will be fighting for one of the spots in the championship game, as No. 6 seed Colts Neck travels to No. 2 Brick Township on Tuesday. Colts Neck has earned their semifinal appearance after knocking off No. 11 Ocean Township, 3-1, behind scoring from Jenna Buckley, Ashley Cataneo and Isabella Fitzhenry. Next, the Cougars defeated No. 3 Steinert, 1-0, with the lone goal from Kristi Mikula.

Brick Township is entering the semifinal matchup with Colts Neck after two straight blowout wins against 15th-seeded Westampton, 7-0, and against 10th-seeded Jackson Liberty, 6-1.  The Dragons improved their record to 16-4-1 and have gotten tournament scoring from Reilly Beggs (two goals), Erika Cameron (two goals), Emma Carpino, Danielle Christ (three goals), Kaitlyn Horvath, Jada Lopez, Jean Anderson and Abby Kennedy (two goals).

Matawan Regional is looking to make their mark in the state tournament and have gotten off to a great start. The eighth-seeded Huskies beat No. 9 Metuchen, 2-0, behind goals from Colleen Lillis and Anna Margarites.  Next up for Matawan was a showdown against top-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven whom the Huskies tied, 1-1, a couple of weeks back and knew they could play with the Bulldogs. The Huskies ended up ending the Bulldogs’ season with a 2-1 victory with goals from Margarites and Bryn Radvanski.  Matawan will now face another Shore Conference foe in fifth-seeded Point Pleasant Boro

The Panthers earned their ticket to the semifinals with wins over Raritan, 1-0, and Wall Township, 4-1.  Point Pleasant got scoring from Heather Van Deventer, Erin Guilfoyle, April Rivera, Frankie Ryan and Paige Yocum.

No. 3 seed Point Pleasant Beach, who has been on a scoring tear this season, has continued their great run and find themselves in the Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals against No. 2 seed Spotswood. The Gulls improved their overall record to 16-2 and have outscored their state opponents, 16-0, with goals from Abby Angelucci (four goals), Julia Cairns (three goals), Kelly Griffin (two goals), Alli House, Elisa Crivelli, McKayla Hughes (three goals), Sarah Shwahia and Hailey Maness.

The final team headed to the state semifinals is no stranger to these games in late October and early November, as top-ranked Shore Regional will face No. 13 South Hunterdon in Central Jersey Group 1 on Tuesday. Shore Regional blanked Palmyra, 8-0, behind scoring from Julia Eichenbaum (three goals), Frankie McDonough (three goals), Elitza Ford and Sophia Salamone. The Blue Devils will be looking for their fourth straight state title.

The Shore Conference girls soccer teams have once again made their mark on the state tournament and come Friday, several will hope to be raising their Group championship trophies.

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