TOMS RIVER - The Toms River South girls soccer team had to contend with rival Toms River East, a round of penalty kicks and a howling wind for 50 straight minutes on a late-afternoon, Halloween showdown in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III Tournament.

The wind again started to play tricks with the ball as Seitz lined up a potential game-winning attempt but the Indians rookie stepped up to the spot and finished off the rivalry game with a special treat.

Seitz slotted the ball into the right side netting to cap Toms River South's penalty-kick-shootout win over Toms River East, 5-3, after 100 scoreless minutes.

Throughout the game and during her kick, the Toms River East student section heckled Seitz and on top of that, the wind gusted as she lined up her attempt, blowing the ball off the spot several times during a period of about 30 seconds. With all the distractions, Seitz, lined up the shot and put it in an unstoppable spot for Raiders goalkeeper Kaia Bace.

"I didn't like how long it was taking - thinking maybe she might have too much time to think about it," Toms River South coach John Crowley said. "But she was good. She put it in a perfect spot and did her thing. I would have liked to see her run to the other side, but it was all fun. It was great to watch them celebrate. That's a tough win against a good team."

Sietz's winner on the fifth Toms River South attempt was made possible by sophomore goalkeeper Holly Applegate, who saved Toms River East's fourth attempt. The Raider player struck a shot high and to the right, but Applegate cut it off before it reached its destination.

Toms River South's Paige Seitz (left) maneuvers around Toms River East's Courtney Russell. (Photo by Matt Manley)

"I saw her look the other way, so I had a feeling she was trying to set me up to go the other way," Applegate said.

Applegate had a chance to save Toms River East's second attempt, but Kelleen Sullivan's shot skipped underneath her reach.

"I had a chance to save that one and I just missed it, but I knew I was going to have another chance," Applegate said.

Seitz's shot, meanwhile, capped a perfect round of shots by Toms River South's shooters, who put three shots in the side netting - by freshman Abby Olexa, sophomore Alexis Scully and Seitz - and one off the right post and in by senior Hannah Olexa.

"We had two sophomores and two freshman shooting, plus a sophomore goalkeeper," Crowley said. "You look around at the teams we play and you see a lot of that. The younger players are coming in more and more and they are talented and polished players."

As the score might indicate, both teams had limited opportunities on the attack during the 100 minutes of action. The closest call was a long shot by Toms River East's Taylor Pape that boomed off the crossbar in the 68th minute. The shot by Pape came with the wind at her back, an advantage Toms River East enjoyed during the second half and into the first overtime period.

Toms River South kept the ball in the Raiders end during the first half but could not generate any chances when it got the wind back in the second overtime until the final minute, during which the Indians put three shots on goal.

"The conditions were really tough out there," Crowley said. "Obviously trying to work against the wind was difficult but even playing with the wind, the ball was taking off. Even some of the balls on the ground kept running."

Thursday's defensive struggle was a much different script from the regular-season meeting between the two Shore Conference Class A South rivals. On Sept. 12, Toms River East beat Toms River South, 3-2, behind a pair of goals by Kasey Boag.

"Both teams are a lot better," Crowley said. "They are a very good defensive team and we have a different lineup than we did back during the early part of the season."

After surviving penalty kicks on Thursday, Toms River South will travel to play top-seeded Ocean City on Tuesday in the sectional quarterfinal. Ocean City edged No. 8 Cherry Hill West, 1-0, by scoring with 12 seconds remaining in the second half.

 

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