By Wayne Witkowski
Jackson Memorial High School’s No. 6-seeded girls’ soccer team faced a familiar opponent in the semifinals of the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group IV tournament Nov. 8: Shore Conference A South Division champion and No. 2-seed Toms River High School North.
It was the third meeting between the two teams this season, with the two prior games won by Toms River North, 2-0 and 1-0.
Jackson Memorial (14-3-1) takes a six-game win streak into the game, including a 1-0 quarterfinals victory over Williamstown High School Nov. 4. Madison Taibl scored the game-winner with 13 minutes left off a pass from Cassie Collimore, and goalkeeper Kyle Sullivan made six saves. Williamstown (14-4-2), the No. 3 seed, had gone 4-0-1 in its last five games before playing the Jaguars.
“The girls are playing really well and they’re playing really good defense, but I think the biggest part of our success lately is the whole team has stepped up when it’s had to,” Jackson Memorial coach Drew Gibson said. “It’s like when we had three or four starters with injuries and the girls behind them stepped right in. We have really good depth.”
The coach looks for his team to get back into the sectional finals for the first time since the 2010 season, when the Jaguars won back-to-back section titles.
There’s also versatility, like when outside fullback Veronica Tobing went down with a knee injury for the rest of the season and Collimore moved smoothly from outside midfielder to outside fullback — a position she played earlier in her career before being moved to the midfield.
Toms River North (18-2) had won three straight games and 13 of 14 entering the game against Jackson Memorial.
“The first time we played them, we turned the ball over two times and they scored two goals off it,” Gibson said. “They play very good defense so when you’re in a hole, it’s hard to come back. We have to continue to play great defense and take advantage of opportunities.”
Jackson Memorial had advanced in the tournament Nov. 1 with a 1-0 victory over Rancocas Valley Regional High School (11-8) on an Alyssa Fernandez goal — her 12th this season — assisted by Caitlyn Fogarty. Sullivan made five saves.
Gabriella Senni scored two goals to lead fourth-seeded Burlington Township High School (10-8-1) to a 6-0 win over 13th-seeded Jackson Liberty High School (5-12) in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group III tournament in Burlington Township.
Kali Williams scored off a penalty stroke with 17 minutes left in the game to lift second-seeded Freehold Township High School (17-4-1) to a 1-0 win over fourth-seeded Jackson Memorial (12-7-1) Nov. 4 in the final round of the Central Jersey, Group IV tournament in Freehold.
Rebekah Chin scored one goal and had one assist when Jackson Memorial beat No. 8-seed Cherry Hill High School East (6-15), 3-2, Nov. 1 in the semifinals. Kerry Walsh and Taryn Wilkins each scored a goal, and Mildred Trembley stopped four shots in goal.
Olivia Sever scored twice to lead top-seeded Moorestown High School (15-3-1) over No. 4-seed Jackson Liberty (13-4-1), 7-0, in the semifinals of the Central Jersey, Group III tournament in Moorestown.