Reinhardt’s Golden Goal Hands Wall Girls Soccer Group Ii Championship By Mike Ready

 

WALL – The Crimson Knights needed 90 minutes to complete the job but in the end they emerged as the NJSIAA Group II champions defeating Westwood, 4-3, in overtime.

 

The win clinched Wall’s first-ever outright state title after finishing as co-champions last season when they battled Northern Highlands to a 0-0 double-overtime tie in the NJSIAA Group III final.

Prior to their group title, the Crimson Knights (24-1-2) beat second-seeded Steinert, 4-0, to win their second straight sectional title after not having won one since 1998.

Senior defender Hailee Reinhardt sent a free kick in from 40-yards out for the golden goal when her shot deflected off a defender’s head and into the net for the game winner with 20 seconds left in the first overtime period.

“Right before the overtime, they were talking about it and they brought up the possibility of being co-champions (again),” Wall girls soccer coach Michael Juska said. “And after last year, we weren’t so happy being co-champions. This group didn’t want to do that again.” 

Wall appeared ready to cruise to the title going up, 2-0, early in the first half. Senior midfielder Sara Gordon put Wall on the board first with a goal in the fifth minute, tapping in a rebound off a shot by senior midfielder Lauren Karabin that goalie Camryn Collova failed to cover up for a 1-0 lead.

Senior Jenna Karabin – Lauren’s twin sister – then controlled a corner kick from senior Jaimie Iorio before slamming it home for 2-0 lead 11 minutes later. 

Jenna Karabin has been a godsend for the Knights after star forward Amy Paternoster was lost for the season with a foot injury on Oct. 19 missing the playoffs. When Paternoster went down, Karabin stepped in as Wall’s top offensive option and finished with 14 goals in Wall’s final nine games.

Paternoster still finished second on the team in goals (29) and assists (20) while Jenna Karabin led the team with 30 goals and added 13 assists.

Westwood wasn’t about to lie down though, as they scored three unanswered goals over a span of 24 minutes to take a 3-2 lead with 33 minutes left in regulation. Westwood’s third goal came on its third shot of the game, scoring on all three shots they took up to that point of the game.

Reeling from Westwood’s flurry of goals and seeing the game slipping away, Gordon came to the rescue in the 60th minute. Taking a cross from Lauren Karabin, Gordon controlled the ball with her left leg before her right legged boot beat a diving Collova to her right for the equalizer.

Wall continued to create offensive pressure into the overtime period but couldn’t find the back of the net, failing to score on a number of set pieces until a Westwood foul gave them a free kick in the 89th minute.

Reinhardt then sent a rocket into the middle of the 18-yard box that went off the head of a leaping Westwood defender and into her own net.

“They fought today like they did all year,” Juska said. “It’s been a great group of girls, especially leaders like Amy and Maggie (Wishart). I’m going to be very sad losing them but I’m thrilled they’re leaving as champions.”

Their Group II title capped a memorable four years for Wall’s group of 12 seniors on the roster. During those four seasons, Wall won three division titles, two Shore Conference Tournament championships and two overall group championships while posting a combined record of 83-12-4 including back-to-back 24-win seasons.

Just prior to the game, Wall was voted the No. 1 team in the NJ.com Top 20 poll and with the win should hold on to that ranking when the final top 20 is released.

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