Bonner’s Overtime Goal Lifts Shore Over Ocean
Ocean Twp., NJ - Cross-town rivals were at it again Saturday morning when undefeated Ocean Township and Shore Regional girls soccer programs squared off at Ocean Township High School. The two schools are less then five miles apart so the players are familiar with each other from high school and club ball, so the records don't mean anything and what does matter is who wants it more.
The first half Ocean Township showed why they are one of the up and coming power programs once again at the Jersey Shore. From ball movement to communication, the Spartans were all over Shore Regional. With the score tied 0-0 with 32:35 remaining in the first half, Ocean's Amanda D'Auria fed a beautiful pass through the Shore Regional defensive line to a charging Spartan forward Talia Pritzlaff. The Blue Devils senior keeper Katie Colaguori came off her line immediately and collided with Pritzlaff and immediately went down as she cleared the ball away. After several minutes of stoppage time Colaguori got back to her feet and walked off under her own power by favoring her right ankle, opening the door for freshman Julia Valinoti to get her first varsity action.
Ocean wasted no time in trying to test the young Blue Devils keeper by throwing several through balls to open space in the corners and allowing their wings to run onto it and make something happen. With 27:41 remaining in the first half and starting keeper Colaguori still on the sidelines, Ocean's freshman Sydni Greaves received a pass along the ride sideline and beat her defender and lofted a shot from about 20 yards out and took advantage of the undersized Valinoti and beat the keeper to give the Spartans the first lead of the game at 1-0.
Ocean had several more opportunities but held onto the ball too long and missed several open players making back side runs. With 24:26 remaining, Colaguori came back into the game and immediately made her impact felt. With Ocean once again pressure the Blue Devils net, the Spartans set up for a corner but this time there was no height issue and Colaguori was able to punch the ball out of danger. The emergence of the senior back in goal and Shore Regional settling down on defense, seemed to take its toll on the Spartans late in the first half as they struggled to pull the trigger on open shots and looked for the "perfect shot".
Coming out of the break an trailing 1-0, Shore Regional knew they had what it took to get back into this game and drew off the momentum they built late in the first half. Freshman Frankie McDonough corralled a cross field pass from fellow freshman Hannah Birdsall and slid it under a diving Spartans keeper Allison Chomsky to tie the game at 1-1. From that point on Shore Regional looked the part of back-to-back NJSIAA title participants, beating Ocean to every lose ball, communicating, making runs and pressuring as a unit. Coach George Moutis added "our girls came out sluggish in the first quarter but as the game went on we grew more and more with confidence and pressured with confidence."
The "Difference Maker" was clearly junior holding midfielder Devon McDonough. The second half after their halftime talk, the junior played the position to perfection. Coach Moutis later added "I told Devon that she was trying to do to much and was all over the place in the first, go out in the second solidify the middle and hold your ground and allow the outside mids to work back." Not only did McDonough solidify the middle, she was aggressive and picked her spots to make runs from the back. On two occasions she found her forwards with through gap passes that lead to breakaways on the keeper. The Blue Devil forwards just held the ball one too many touches and Ocean's Chomsky came up with diving saves to keep the Spartans in the game in the second half.
Neither team could find the back of the net the rest of regulation and headed for overtime. This was Shore Regionals second overtime this week after battling Red Bank Catholic earlier in the week to a 1-1 draw, while this was the first overtime contest of the season for the Spartans. After a tightly contested first 10-minute overtime where both teams had their chances but great goaltending from both Chomsky and Colaguori kept the game knotted at 1-1.
Heading into the second overtime, a frustrated senior midfielder Shannon Bonner could be heard "we need to attack and move the ball faster downfield', her teammates listened and quickly after the kickoff the Blue Devils were in the Ocean defensive third and looking to put the game away. With just over a minute and half into the second overtime, junior forward Katie Stephens carried the ball to the left corner flag and feed the ball cross field to a wide open Bonner, who calmly received the ball and buried it past a diving Chomsky for the game winner.
Afterwards Coach Moutis added "Bonner was on an emotional high after the first overtime but sometimes you need that in tight games, we were trying to attack in waves and she wanted to pressure with speed…I love her toughness and it shows why she is one of our leaders out on the field."
With the win Shore improves to 3-2-1 and extended their points streak with the wins and a tie since back-to-back losses to start the season, while Ocean drops their first game of the season and falls to 4-1.