Girls Soccer – Rumson Beats Jackson Memorial to Reach 1st SCT Semi in 11 Years
RUMSON - Rumson-Fair Haven girls soccer coach Mary Beth Coleman has led her Lady Bulldogs to two NJSIAA Group II championships during her time as the head of the program, but Monday night at Borden Stadium, her team ensured they will be going somewhere the program has not gone during Coleman's accomplished tenure: Neptune in late October.
Freshman Grace Karagjozi scored in the third minute and junior goalkeeper Samantha Beaudreault earned a shutout behind a workmanlike effort by the defense to help Rumson - the No. 6 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament - beat No. 14 Jackson Memorial, 1-0, to advance to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2004.
"It's unreal to think that Rumson is going to the SCT semifinals," Beaudreault said. "I don't even know the last time the program has been this far or if we've ever been this far. If we have it's been a while. It's just incredible, I'm so happy and so proud of the effort we gave tonight."
Rumson will take on No. 2 Freehold Township Wednesday at 5 p.m. on the turf at Memorial Field, behind Summerfield Elementary School in Neptune. The game will be the front end of a semifinal double-header, with a rematch of last year's championship game between No. 5 Wall and No. 1 Colts Neck to follow.
Less than three minutes into Monday's game, Rumson struck for the lone goal of the game with a quick counter-attack, led by leading goal-scorer Grace Forsyth (17 goals this season). The junior forward took the ball on the attack and played a diagonal ball through from left to right, setting Karagjozi up on the right side of the 18-yard box. The freshman took a touch toward the goal and ripped an eight-yard finish to the far left side of the goal for her 14th goal of the season and the only score Beaudreault and the defense would need.
"My forwards have been outstanding all year," Coleman said. "Grace Karajgozi is a freshman who doesn't play like it. She has a great sense of where the ball is going to be and when to make the run and with a player like Grace Forsyth up there with her, it just opens everything up."
Most of Beaudreault's work in preserving the lead involved attacking through-balls and services into the box, but the junior keeper did have to deliver four saves in order to nail down the shutout. Her last save was her most crucial, a lunging catch of a shot by Jackson Memorial senior Daria Jones.
"The whole game was pretty anxious for our defense," Beaudreault said. "Any time you are trying to protect a one-goal lead for that long, you are on your toes and they (Jackson) had some girls who got off some dangerous shots. Mostly, I just tried to stay aggressive and get to the ball in the box because they were playing a lot of balls through on the ground and sending runners to try to chase them down."
The Jaguars nearly tied the game in the 63rd minute when Jones collided with Beaudreault as the keeper caught the ball and sophomore Allison Wanzor bounced on the loose ball by knocking it into the goal. The potential equalizer, however, was disallowed because Jones was ruled to have made illegal contact with the goalkeeper after Beaudreault had already secured the ball.
"I felt like I was able to establish possession of the ball before the collision," Beaudreault said. "I knew when I got hit, I had it for long enough that the referee could blow the whistle for protecting the keeper and fortunately, the referee agreed."
Jackson Memorial's frustration with the call was intensified because several minutes earlier, Beaudreault collided with Wanzor while going for a loose ball in the box, but the contact did not warrant a foul call, according to the officials.
"He (the official) said he was protecting the goalie, which is fine, I understand that," said Jackson Memorial coach Drew Gibson, who was issued a yellow card for arguing the call. "To me, I think both players got there at the same time, the ball came out and we scored a goal. He said she had it in her hands, I didn't see it that way."
Monday's fast start was a welcome change for Rumson, which rallied to beat Toms River East in the round of 16 Friday after a self-described sluggish start, according to Coleman.
"I think our girls were excited to play tonight with the opportunity we had and we came out focused and ready to go," Coleman said. "We got off to kind of a slow start a few nights ago against Toms River East and were able to pull through and tonight, we started off strong for a change, which was good to see."
The Jaguars, meanwhile, fell short of an unlikely trip to the semifinals, at least according to their No. 14 seed. Jackson Memorial upended No. 3 Toms River North on penalty kicks on Friday after a scoreless draw and will look to ride the momentum of its SCT run as it prepares for the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV playoffs.
"We always seem to have trouble scoring against Toms River North and today, we were just a little off on a couple runs and some shots," said Gibson, whose team started just three seniors on Monday. "Every game is a learning experience, especially when you can get deep into a tournament like this. We do have some young players on the team that will benefit from this, hopefully for the state tournament."
The Bulldogs will now prepare to play a Patriots team seeking to win its second SCT championship in five years with a lineup that boasts five committed Division I players, led by senior striker Nicole Whitley (16 goals). While Freehold Township is 14-3-1 against a quality schedule, a handful of teams have been able to solve the Patriots this season, mostly notably Freehold Boro and Howell. The Colonials played their crosstown rivals to a 1-1 tie, while the Rebels beat Freehold Township in both meetings during the Class A North schedule. Red Bank Catholic also took the Patriots to overtime in the round of 16 before Whitley delivered a golden goal in the final minute of the first overtime period.
"Freehold Township has been amazing all season," Coleman said. "I know it's going to be a battle. We're going to go out and do our best and play our hardest. We're just happy to be going there and to have the opportunity."
Rumson-Fair Haven 1, Jackson Memorial 0
|Jackson Memorial (11-7-1)||0||0||0|
|Rumson-Fair Haven (15-2-1)||1||0||1|
Goal (Assist): (RFH) Grace Kalagjozi (Grace Forsyth) 3’
Shots: Jackson Memorial, 7-6
Saves: (JM) Kylee Sullivan 2; (RFH) Samantha Beaudreault 4