TOMS RIVER - Since winning the Shore Conference Tournament in 2012, the SCT has been cruel to the Toms River North girls soccer team. Despite drawing high seeds each of the past three years, the Mariners have lost on their home field each time before they could ever get back to the semifinal.

Facing a No. 11 seed in Point Pleasant Borough Monday night intent on extending a 17-game unbeaten streak while continuing the Mariners' misery, the third-seeded hosts rediscovered their championship form and punched a ticket back to the SCT semifinals.

Junior Melissa Wilhelm began the scoring with a well-placed shot from distance and classmate Krystal Hund scored her 21st and 22nd goals of the season to highlight a 4-0 win over the Panthers. Toms River North advances to Wednesday night's SCT semifinals at Central Regional High School, where they will take on No. 2 Freehold Township.

Toms River North junior Melissa Wilhelm (16) scored the Mariners' first goal Monday night. (Photo by Matt Manley)

"I thought our speed was a big factor, we finished our chances and, overall, the girls just played hard," Toms River North coach Tom Miller said.

Wilhelm staked Toms River North to a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute with an 18-yard strike from the right edge of the box. Her shot cleared the reach of Point Boro keeper Amye Zalesky and dipped under the crossbar.

"It takes the pressure off to see that shot go in," Miller said. "I thought we were pressing them pretty good and when we finally got one, that one kind of opened things up a little bit. It let the girls settle in a little bit and they just played better and better."

The Mariners managed that 1-0 advantage into the second half and extended it on Hund's first goal. Wilhelm fed Hund the ball on the right side and the junior drilled a 14-yard strike to the far left corner of the net in the 52nd minute.

Two minutes later, Hund set up junior Jenna Royson for a 12-yard rip inside the right post to stretch the lead to 3-0 and effectively put the game away. Royson returned the favor to Hund for the Mariners' final goal in the 74th minute, with blasting a shot to the upper near corner from 10 yards out on the left side.

Senior Ashley Tutzsauer earned the clean sheet in goal with three saves, none of which posed a serious threat to the shutout. Toms River North enjoyed a 13-6 advantage in shots for the game.

Monday's win ended a run of three straight SCT exits on their home field for the Mariners. As a No. 4 seed and defending champion in 2013, Toms River North lost to a No. 13 seed Central side that made a Cinderella run to the championship game. The next year, it was another No. 13 seed that stunned Toms River North in Toms River, with Brick Memorial taking out the No. 5 Mariners in the quarterfinals. Last year, No. 14 Jackson Memorial upset the third-seeded Mariners on penalty kicks in the round of 16.

"The last couple years have been tough," Miller said. "I was glad we saw some teams outside of our division this year before we got to the semifinals. This is good for the program. A lot of these girls are juniors, we have a bunch of sophomores as well, and we've been talking them up about how we want to get to the semifinals this year and get a taste of what to expect in a big-game environment. Hopefully, we'll play well and build on it from there."


Box Score

Toms River North 4, Point Boro 0

1 2 F
Point Boro (16-3-1) 0 0 0
Toms River North (15-1) 1 3 4

Goals (Assists): (TRN) Melissa Wilhelm (Emily Royson) 24', Krystal Hund (Melissa Wilhelm) 52', Jenna Royson (Krystal Hund) 54', Krystal Hund (Jenna Royson) 74'
Shots: Toms River North, 13-6
Saves: (PB) Amye Zalesky 4; (TRN) Ashley Tutzsauer 3