A second sectional championship in three seasons was not to be for the Allentown High School girls’ soccer team.
Two Hopewell Valley Central Regional High School goals off corner kicks, put Allentown into a hole early and the Redbird couldn’t recover, losing to the host Bulldogs, 4-2, in the final of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament on Nov. 7 in Hopewell.
“The girls exceeded my expectations this year,” said Allentown coach Kim Maurer. “To make it to both the Mercer County Tournament final and the sectional final is a huge accomplishment in itself. I’m proud of them.”
Junior Olivia Ricci established school history by getting Allentown on the board with 9:05 left to play in the first half. Ricci set a new single-season program record by scoring home her 20th goal of the season to cut the Allentown deficit to 2-1.
“It was a goal of mine all season to get the record,” Ricci said. “It’s amazing and exciting. I can’t explain it.”
Allentown was in striking distance to tie things up, but Hopewell Valley answered Ricci’s goal with 4:51 left in first half.
Freshman Faith Doldy bolted into the Allentown zone to strike in her eighth goal of the season to give Hopewell Valley a 3-1 lead at the half.
Senior Nicola Mosionek rocketed in her game-high second goal of the contest to extend the Hopewell Valley lead to 4-1 with 16:26 left to play.
Allentown continued to fight, making it a two-goal game again with 3:40 left to play on senior Vanessa Rodriguez’s sixth goal of the season.
Allentown goalkeeper Grace Walsh had a game-high nine saves in the loss.
The Redbirds finished the season with a 17-6-1 record.
Allentown has finished with 17 victories in each of the past two seasons.
So close to winning the program’s second sectional title and with nine starters returning next season, Maurer sees this playoff run as a big learning experience for the Redbirds heading into next year.
“Some of our girls have never experienced playing in a sectional championship game, so they’ve now experienced that and hopefully we’ll be in the same spot next year,” Maurer said.
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