WEST LONG BRANCH - Whether it is scoring a goal or winning a state championship, Shore Regional senior Frankie McDonough has had a lot of success during her high school career and no matter how often she does either, it still doesn't get old.

Since reaching the 100-career-goal milestone on Oct. 25, McDonough has scored nine goals in three NJSIAA Tournament games, including two more on Friday to lead the Blue Devils - the top seed in Central Jersey Group I - to a 2-0 win over No. 3 Point Pleasant Beach for their seventh straight sectional championship.

In McDonough's four years as a varsity starter, she has helped lead Shore to three overall Group I championships and her team is two wins away from becoming just the fourth program in state history to win four consecutive outright group championships, which would join Morris Catholic (Group I, 1988-95), Lenape (Group IV, 2007-11) and Northern Highlands (Group III, 2011-14).

Photo by Matt Manley.

"Every year, we know we are the team to beat and we can't let that pressure get to our heads," McDonough said. "It's almost scary but it's kind of exciting too. We've seen the articles that only three teams have done it and it's exciting and also scary to know the kind of pressure we will be facing the rest of the way. We want to win so bad so we are ready for that pressure."

With Point Beach hungry to end Shore's reign atop Central Jersey Group  and Garnet Gulls goalkeeper Toni Abdy locked in throughout the game, McDonough's scoring prowess was the difference between Shore facing a potential upset and putting the game away midway through the second half. The senior opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a close-range shot over Abdy off a cross from junior Julia Eichenbaum.

In the 62nd, McDonough effectively put the game on ice when she gathered a pass from freshman Mia Agresti and unleashed a right-footed strike to the upper left part of the frame. McDonough's headband came undone on the play, but neither the hair in her face nor Point Beach's standout keeper would deter her.

"She is very good at going low," McDonough said of Abdy. "Basically every shot on the ground, she went down and saved it so for me, I was trying to elevate my shot a little bit more and force her to leave the ground and that's what wound up working."

 

McDonough's two goals on Friday give her 23 for the season and 109 for her career.

"Four years ago, I didn't even know scoring 100 goals was possible, so I definitely didn't think I was going to be somebody who did it," McDonough said. "It's not something I set out to do and I never really thought about until i was a goal or two away and people were telling me. I think it helped to get it out of the way because now there is no number in my head. It's not like I'm thinking about scoring 110 or 115."

"I think getting that 100th goal took a lot of pressure off her," 11th-year coach George Moutis said. "In the past two or three games, she has been scoring multiple goals. Not only is she a great goal-scorer; she is also a great passer. She's made a couple great passes to free some other girls up for breakaways."

Abdy saved 11 shots in an attempt to keep Point Beach in the game and the Garnet Gulls mounted a dangerous push during the final eight minutes of the first half to close their disadvantage in shots to 8-6 by the break. Shore owned the second half, however, outshooting Point Beach 10-2.

Shore goalkeeper Julia Valinoti needed to make only two saves to secure her third shutout in four games.

"Our starting defense hasn't allowed a goal since the Manalapan game (on Oct. 25)," Moutis said. "They are starting to gel and understand their roles but also, Julie made some key saves. In the first half, she made couple critical saves when they could have changed the complexion of the game."

The Blue Devils are now only two wins away from a fourth straight Group I title and will have to get past Audubon on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Paul VI High School in Haddonfield. During its run of seven straight sectional titles, Shore has reached the Group I final each time.

"There is a lot of pressure every year with everyone expecting them to do it," Moutis said. "That's why I never tell them to go out and win. I tell them to go out, play hard, do your best and play for each other."

 

Box Score

Shore 2, Point Beach 0

1 2 F
Point Beach (17-3) 0 0 0
Shore (17-5) 1 1 2

Goals (Assists): (S) Frankie McDonough (Julia Eichenbaum) 32', Frankie McDonough (Mia Agresti) 62'
Shots: Shore, 18-8
Saves: (PB) Toni Abdy 11; (S) Julia Valinoti 2

 

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