The Raritan High School girls’ soccer team has struggled to find the win column for most of the season, but the Rockets scored a dominating victory to finish the campaign.
Raritan was originally scheduled to play Ranney School, but a last-minute issue forced Ranney to back out of the match. South River High School stepped up to take on the Rockets on Oct. 23 in Hazlet.
Raritan led by one goal at halftime, but it really poured on the goals in the last few minutes of the game, including two by senior forward Jenna Yascur.
Raritan finished with a 4-0 shutout over South River, and the victory capped off a 3-14 season for the Rockets, who were able to celebrate on Senior Night.
“I just had so much fun with all the girls,” Yascur said. “I’m never going to forget playing with all the girls here today.
“I think we worked really well together. I think we moved the ball around really well. Our forwards did a great job of following shots tonight, which was great.”
Raritan coach Francine Florio was proud of the way her players competed during the final few games of the season. Two of the Rockets’ three victories came in their last four games.
“I was very happy to see the girls play possession,” Florio said. “They were able to get the ball to the forwards to attack and score goals.”
Although the season is over, both Florio and Yascur are looking forward to seeing the team improve next year.
“[We] just [want to] continue to work on the chemistry between the girls,” Florio said. “We have a lot of young players, and so we need to build them up and build the chemistry for next year.”
“We need to get the ball up a little sooner. But as long as they keep working together as a team, we’ll be fine,” Yascur, who graduates in June, said about the prospects for next year’s squad.
South River head coach Donny Minto and the Rams have more games to play and are looking forward to continuing their postseason in the state sectional tournament after suffering a preliminary-round defeat to John P. Stevens High School, 6-0, in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament on Oct. 18 in Edison.
“Our girls were resilient,” Minto said following the game against Raritan. “We had to shuffle the lineup because one of our sweepers went down with a knee injury. We tried to do our best to hold the offense of Raritan coming our way. We gave up a lot of shots. I thought that [sophomore goalie] Tori [Pinto] did a great job in goal. She had a lot of key saves.
“With the youth that we had on the field defensively — a sophomore goalie, sophomore stopper, sophomore sweeper, freshman outside fullback and a junior outside fullback — [we were] a very inexperienced team going up against a very good Group 2 Shore Conference opponent today.”
Pinto also commended her team’s effort for trying to overcome the injuries.
“I saw [junior] Ashley Fischer step up when our sweeper went down,” Pinto said. “We just tried to play our best, and I think we worked well as a team.”
Minto and Pinto want the team to be more aggressive on the offensive end.
“We need to certainly work on possessing the ball much better,” Minto said. “We lack the aggressiveness needed to win the game tonight. Raritan, if we looked at the stat sheet, we’ll see that they won the majority of the 50/50 balls. Any time you’re not doing that, you’re going to have a hard time getting out of your end, you’re going to have a hard time pushing the ball forward and you’re certainly not going to get many shots and scoring opportunities. So that’s two things that we need to work on going forward.”
“I think we need to be more aggressive and win the 50/50 balls,” Pinto said. “We definitely need to work on communicating more as well.”
The Rams, who are 11-7 on the season, hoped to find a rhythm before the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 1 tournament got started on Oct. 30. South River opened play in the state tournament on Oct. 30 against Riverside High School in South River. A victory would advance South River to a matchup against Metuchen High School on Nov. 2.
“We got a few more games left,” Minto said prior to the start of the tournament. “We’re trying to get ready for states coming [on Oct. 30]. We’re trying to get some consistency going into that.”
“I think we have a good chance,” Pinto said. “As long as we keep practicing and stay motivated, I think we have a good chance of winning.”