Oct 28, 2012
Mariners seize first SCT title
NEPTUNE — Toms River North junior forwards Erika Pita and Shannon Groffie couldn’t believe their luck.
At two different times in the game, once in the first half and once in the second half, the ball took a fortuitous bounce toward each of them.
And with one swing of their feet, each player pushed Toms River North closer to the first girls soccer Shore Conference Tournament title in school history.
Pita punched it in for the score in the first half, Groffie doubled Toms River North’s luck in the second half and when the clock finally showed no time remaining, the second-seeded Mariners defeated top-seed Freehold, 2-0, on Saturday evening at the Summerfield Elementary School in Neptune.
“That play just happened out of nowhere. I was actually surprised and I wasn’t even expecting a goal,” said Pita of the pass from freshman midfielder Nicole Logan. “It was really big that we took the lead and I trusted that my team was going to win. We just worked together for the win.”
Pita’s goal, which was her 15th of the season, came at 36:44 and that gave the Mariners (17-1) the lead just before halftime.
Then Groffie gave the Mariners all the insurance they would need in the second half with Pita’s assistance.
After chasing down a ball in the right corner and with a defender charging at her, Pita somehow crossed the ball from the right side to the left side and the ball missed a couple players from both teams and bounced to Groffie on the left side at 56:19. The goal was Groffie’s 12th of the season and in the biggest game of the year for the Mariners, the team’s leading scorer Pita and second leading scorer, Groffie, each came through with a big goal.
“I wasn’t expecting the ball to go through all of those players but it did and I was able to pop it in. I don’t credit that to myself, I credit that to Erika and everyone out there,” Groffie said. “We have never been to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals or the final before. So, this is huge for us.”
The second goal by Toms River North was the most that Freehold (16-1) had given up to an opponent this season. In fact, Freehold had allowed only two goals coming into the Shore Conference Tournament final, one to Ocean and one Wall in separate regular season games.
“Unfortunately, at some point our luck was going to run out defensively. We played super strong [defense] the entire season,” Freehold co-coach Elyse Ingui said. “Today, we were a little off. We reorganized in the second half and we did a nice job of that but it was just a little bit too late.”
The victory extended Toms River North’s winning streak to 13 games. The Mariners haven’t lost since Sept. 19 when Brick Memorial edged Toms River North, 1-0.
Toms River North sophomore goalkeeper Alyssa Dell’Acqua made three saves for her ninth shutout of the year and Freehold senior goalkeeper Sara Cobb made seven saves.
Sherlon Christie: schristie@njpress media.com