Girls Soccer – Shore Takes on Skyland in 2nd Annual Mountains vs. Seas Festival
For the second straight year two of the state's top conferences in girls soccer will square off for regular-season bragging rights while also working to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.
This Sunday, seven teams from the Shore Conference will face seven teams from the Skyland Conference in the second annual Mountains vs. the Seas Girls Soccer festival. Last year's showcase helped raise more than $50,000 for the Go4TheGoal Foundation, which works to improve the lives of children battling cancer.
This year's showcase is raising money for Into the Light, a non-profit focusing on reducing the stigma of depression for teens and young adults and preventing suicide.
Anyone wishing to donate online can follow this link. Click the donate button and follow the steps provided to complete the process.
Of course, there will also be some high-level soccer played in Tinton Falls Sunday, asw well. Here is a look at the seven match-ups on tap for the festival.
2019 Mountains vs. the Seas Girls Soccer Festival
Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019
At Capelli Sports Complex, Tinton Falls
Field No. 5
Records through Thursday's games
Shore (7-1) vs. Pingry (4-2), 10 a.m.
Shore returns goal-scoring machine and Illinois commit Julia Eichenbaum, who is off to another torrid start now that she is in her final high school season. The Shore striker already has 12 goals and six assists in eight games for the Blue Devils, who have won seven straight since an opening-day, 4-0 loss to Freehold Township. Shore is trying to return to the Group I final after failing to reach the state championship game for the first time in seven years.
The Blue Devils draw Pingry, which caught fire at the right time last year en route to capturing the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship. Like Shore, the Big Blue have been a high-scoring outfit early in the 2019, posting at least three goals in each of its last five games with an average of 3.67 per game.
Jackson Memorial (8-0) vs. Hunterdon Central (4-0-1), Noon
One of the Shore's hottest teams out of the gate, Jackson Memorial has hammered its opponents by a combined 34-3 margin while going 8-0. Senior Natalie Knauf is off to a strong start scoring goals and junior Hannah Reese has starred this week with a hat trick vs. Manasquan and another goal in a 2-0 win over Toms River South.
Hunterdon Central represents Jackson Memorial's toughest test to date. The Red Devils are a perennial contender in Group IV and have picked up a quality 5-0 win over Haddonfield and a 1-1 draw vs. Ridge.
Middletown South (7-0) vs. Mount St. Mary (4-1), 2 p.m.
Middletown South's start to 2019 has been as impressive as any in the Shore Conference. Among the Eagles' victims so far are Allentown and Red Bank Catholic, so not only is Middletown South winning every game; it is beating quality competition. Emma Laudisi continues to be a reliable source of scoring while junior Katie Coyle and freshman Abygail Doherty have also started strong on the attack.
The Eagles will put their streak on the line against a Mount St. Mary side that has conceded only twice this year and is led by senior Olivia Tiboni (six goals in five matches).
Field No. 6
Freehold Twp. (5-1-1) vs. Ridge (3-1-1), 10 a.m.
Four has been the magic number for Freehold Township to open the season, with the Patriots scoring four goals in each of their five victories. Senior Kat O'Brien leads the way with seven goals, junior Ryan Leohner has six and senior Anna Proborkina has posted five goals and six assists in the early going.
Saturday's 10 a.m. slate is a rematch of the 2017 Group IV championship game, which ended in a scoreless draw and the two teams sharing the group title. Last year was the first year in which group finals are decided by penalty kicks should the game remain tied after 100 minutes, but he draw will again be in play on Sunday for the Patriots and the Red Devils.
Toms River North (4-1-1) vs. Watchung Hills (1-5), Noon
After winning the a wide-open Shore Conference Tournament last season, Toms River North is among the favorites again this year. After an opening-day loss to St. John Vianney, the Mariners have picked up wins over Ridge and Colts Neck and earned a draw against Brick. Toms River North is again led by central defender and Duke University commit Emily Royson.
On record, Saturday's game might seem like a mismatch, but Watchung Hills has had to deal with Hunterdon Central, North Hunterdon, Pingry, Ridge and Kearny. The Warriors are a year removed from reaching the North Jersey 2 Group IV final, where they loss to Bridgewater-Raritan.
St. John Vianney (5-2) vs. Bridgewater-Raritan, 2 p.m.
With a serious slate of games to open the season, the Lancers are a very strong 5-2 to open the year, with wins over Toms River North, Freehold Township, Middletown North, Colts Neck and Neptune and losses to Shore and Red Bank Catholic. Senior Abby Cieri has led the attack with five goals and three assists during St. John Vianney's fast start.
Bridgewater-Raritan is the defending Group IV runner-up after losing a championship-game heart-breaker to Eastern. The Panthers won their first five games of this season and bring a balanced scoring effort to the table against another tough opponent on a tough schedule.
Field No. 3
Red Bank Catholic (5-1) vs. Somerville, Noon
After coming up one win shy of Shore Conference and NJSIAA sectional titles last year, RBC is on a mission in 2019 to finish off both. On Saturday, the Caseys will show off a balanced attack that includes three five-goal scorers through six games - sophomore Morgan Cupo, senior Reagan Pauwels and senior Katelyn Bertoldo.
Somerville counters with a program that was always a factor in Group II and has bumped up to Group III in recent years while maintaining its status as one of the Skyland's top teams year-in and year-out. The freshman duo of Caitlyn Scott (six goals) and Alexandra Peterson (five) have opened eyes in the early part of the season.