TOMS RIVER - With a chance to advance to its first NJSIAA Group III final since 1998, the Wall girls soccer team had the right player standing over a penalty kick in the seventh minute of overtime.

Junior Amy Paternoster shook off a brief delay as the official explained a handball call to the Seneca sideline and calmly slotted the winning penalty into right side of the net to give the Crimson Knights a 2-1, overtime win over Seneca to advance to the Group III final Saturday against perennial power Northern Highlands.

After both teams scored in the first 14 minutes, neither made much noise over the next 70-plus minutes, which included the first six minutes of overtime. Wall pushed the ball forward in the 87th and Lauren Karabin slammed a potential cross off the elbow of a Seneca defender near the outskirts of the penalty box to set up Paternoster's kick.

"I was pretty confident. We practice (penalty kicks) all the time," Paternoster said. "I know I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, but I finished and I'm happy."

After waiting for nearly a minute over the ball, Paternoster ended the game with a well-placed shot that Seneca goalkeeper Samantha Andrews could not get to despite leaning in the right direction.

"I knew the longer it took, the more the goalie would get psyched out, so I stayed pretty confident," Paternoster said. "I was just chillin'. Ready to take it whenever they let me."

Karabin scored Wall's first goal exactly 14 minutes into the game, which pulled Wall even at one. She took the ball on the right side and slammed it past Andrews, who got a piece of it, but could not stop it from reaching the back of the net inside the near post.

Seneca stunned Wall by scoring 49 seconds into the game on an arching shot by Erin Kerstetter that carried over the head of Crimson Knights keeper Alex Panasuk.

"In the first minute when they scored, it was unfortunate, but I think we had confidence that we would come back," Paternoster said. "We know how good we are, we played our game and we ultimately found success.

"I was getting a little frustrated because we did start to play their game a little bit and I know when we play our game, we play such awesome soccer."

Wall's only appearance in a state final game came in 1998, when the Knights dropped an overtime game against Ramapo. Northen Highlands, meanwhile has won seven state titles, including four straight from 2011 to 2014.

"I know my team and I are really excited to represent our town," Paternoster said. "We just won the sectionals for the first time since '98 and were just really proud to represent our town."

 

Box Score

Wall 2, Seneca 1 (OT)

1 2 OT F
Wall (24-1) 1 0 1 2
Seneca (15-8-1) 1 0 0 1

Goals (Assists): (W) Lauren Karabin (Sarah Gordon) 14', Amy Paternoster (PK) 87'; (S) Erin Kersetter 1'
Shots: Wall, 12-5
Saves: (W) Alex Panasuk 1; (S) Samantha Edwards 1

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