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By Liz Matakevich
Shore Sports Network Contributor

Red Bank Catholic is very familiar with playing in late, tie-score games, but some recent Shore Conference Tournament games have not gone the way of the Caseys. Thursday night, RBC rediscovered that winning formula at Memorial Field in Neptune.

Olivia Lucia (2) scores the game-winning goal for Red Bank Catholic to take down No. 2 Toms River South. (Photo by Cliff Lavelle)

After winning its quarterfinal match against Freehold Township in penalty kicks on Monday, No. 6 seed Red Bank Catholic defeated No. 2 Toms River South 1-0 on an overtime goal by Olivia Lucia in the sixth minute of the extra period that put the Caseys in their first championship game since winning the 2010 tournament.

“I anticipated getting to the final round of this tournament from the moment I started here,” first-year head coach Frank Lawrence said. “Red Bank Catholic has a tremendous tradition of excellence, and we had a lot of kids step up this year to continue that.”

The Caseys fell in the semifinals on penalty kicks in each of the last two years, last year to Freehold Boro and to Wall in 2011.

“We have been here for the past four years and the last two years we were in this position and lost in penalty kicks, so to win in the last round off penalty kicks and come here to this round again, it was our final push to get to the final round and it feels great,” senior forward Liz Thoresen said.

The golden goal for RBC would come in the sixth minute of overtime off a corner kick by Thoresen that Lucia punched in for the winner. The corner kick goal was only Red Bank Catholic’s second of the entire season.

“To get the goal off my corner kick was awesome,” Thoresen said. “This was one of our biggest problems kicking corners and to finally score on a corner kick in overtime is crazy.”

Lucia knew how special the moment was to help her teammates earn a win in a tight spot, doing so in only her first year on varsity, coming up from junior varsity after her freshman year.

“It feels so great to get that goal for my team,” Lucia said. “I was so shocked when it went in. I didn’t think it was going to.”

“That play that Olivia (Lucia) had did not surprise me - I think it surprised her more,” Lawrence said. “We all knew she was special and was going to do something special for us, and she did it when we needed her to in a big pressure game.”

Thoresen had been on the team as a freshman when Red Bank Catholic last went to the championship in 2010 and won 4-0 against Wall,  and she is looking to once again get a chance to take the title back in her senior year.

“We have a saying, 'Win it back,' and to finish my senior year with a win in the final round of the tournament after winning my freshman year would be the greatest thing,” Thoresen said.

Both Red Bank Catholic and Toms River South were pretty even throughout the whole game, each getting multiple opportunities to put goals up on the board.

Toms River South had a chance to break the scoreless drought in the 24rd minute of the first half when Madison Kenny made her way to the net and got a shot off, but RBC goalkeeper Jackie Robinson was there to make the save. RBC would come right back at them, with Thoresen getting a shot off that goalkeeper Taylor Dean saved.

The second half was no different, as both teams attempted to strike first. Lauren Mendez made a pass to Taylor Troutman, who got a shot off on net in the 67th minute, but it was saved by Robinson. RBC senior Grace Correll took a late shot that she blasted towards the goal in the 85th minute, but Dean came up with the clutch save by punching the ball over the net out of bounds.

Jackie Robinson had seven saves on the night for RBC, while Taylor Dean made 10 saves for Toms River South. The Caseys outshot Toms River South 12-7.
The Caseys will play No. 13 Central Regional in Saturday's final at 7 p.m. at Memorial Field. Central defeated top-seeded Freehold on Wednesday night for the Golden Eagles' third straight SCT win over a top-five seed. Central is playing in its first final in program history against a Caseys team that won three in a row from 2008 to 2010.

Box Score

Red Bank Catholic 1, Toms River South 0 (OT)

1 2 OT F
Red Bank Catholic (16-2-2) 0 0 1 1
Toms River South (16-2) 0 0 0 0

Goals (Assists): (RBC) Lucia (Thoresen) 86'
Shots: Red Bank Catholic, 12-7
Saves: (RBC) Robinson 7; (TRS) Dean 10