TCNJ Lion’s field in Ewing, NJ – November 17th Written by Louis Rossi for NJSI.net/Photos by Alan Maglaque
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The third championship game to be played on Saturday, November 17th, would also have the largest crowd turnout – nearly filling the stands with parents and classmates cheering for their friends and loved ones as they took the field. Haddonfield had a score to settle, they had made it far this year, only to return home empty handed.
As the sun made its way to the horizon, the cold decided to revisit the field at The College of New Jersey, making the quickly-declining 45 degree temperature a near second-opponent for Haddonfield and Pascack Hills to overcome.
Both teams came out strong, challenging each other on both ends of the field. It was clear very early that the defense was the real factor in this game. Each side had its strategy clearly in place, allowing them to move the ball quickly away from the goal and out of harm’s way.
With 13:33 remaining in the first half, Haddonfield’s #9 (Senior) Maggie Lupinski would make the games first, and only, goal – scoring through traffic consisting of her own teammates and defenders alike.
Lupinski’s shot would be enough to rally her team to take over offensively, keeping the ball in Pascack territory for nearly the entire remainder of the first half.
Coming out of the half determined and focused would be Pascack, making 3 shots on goal in just the first six minutes.
Haddonfield’s goalie, (Senior) Frances Nicoletti, would be there to support her team every step of the way. All three shots on goal during the second half were handled with an authoritative effort and precise skill, shutting down the offensive effort as quickly as possible.
Nicoletti made it very clear that she came to play; giving her all and truly standing out as an exceptional goal keeper making save after save with cautious, exacting skill.
Thanks to the defensive effort of Nicoletti and Haddonfield’s exceptional defensive strategy of clearing the ball at just the right moments, they would go on to become champions.
“It’s a complete bipolar experience,” said Nicoletti, “I couldn’t be more excited! I had the best defense in the world. I barely had to work. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
“I was surprised one goal held up; but just like the season we took it moment by moment, game by game, knowing how much we didn’t enjoy the previous outcome of our games played here,” Coach Glenn Gess offered, “I started coaching these girls four years ago, so it’s the first class I’ve had the entire time. We’ve worked hard and the result has been an overall record of 89-8-2. You couldn’t write a better script for this senior class. They’ve all worked so hard and I couldn’t be [more proud] of them.”