Rockets top Falcons, 3-0, in A Central soccer action

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Raritan High School girls soccer player Keira Johnson takes a shot on net during a game against Monmouth Regional on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls. Johnson scored a goal in Raritan's 3-0 victory over Monmouth Regional. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School girls soccer player Isabella Geoghan tries to steal the ball from Monmouth Regional's Lauren Spence during a game played on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls. Raritan won 3-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School girls soccer player Julianna Thorn prepares to take a shot on net during a game against Monmouth Regional on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School girls soccer player Brooke Gaetani hits the free kick towards the net during a game against Monmouth Regional on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School girls soccer player Keira Johnson takes a shot on net during a game against Monmouth Regional on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls. Johnson scored a goal in Raritan's 3-0 victory over Monmouth Regional. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School girls soccer player Isabella Geoghan tries to steal the ball from Monmouth Regional's Lauren Spence during a game played on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls. Raritan won 3-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School girls soccer player Julianna Thorn prepares to take a shot on net during a game against Monmouth Regional on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School girls soccer player Brooke Gaetani hits the free kick towards the net during a game against Monmouth Regional on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The Raritan High School and Monmouth Regional High School girls soccer teams came into their Shore Conference A Central Division clash on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls searching for their first division victory of the 2021 season.

After a scoreless first half, Raritan’s players came out firing in the second half and found the back of the net three times to post a 3-0 victory over Monmouth Regional.

“Every win counts,” Raritan Coach Fran Florio said. “It builds confidence, it builds integrity and it helps us move forward. Our division is extremely tough. All of the girls played hard for 80 minutes.”

Sophomore Keira Johnson opened the scoring for the Rockets two minutes into the second half when she notched her third goal of the season to put Raritan up 1-0.

“It felt great,” Johnson said. “Once I saw the ball hit the back of the net, I got really excited. It feels good to play a part in our win.”

Johnson’s goal lifted the Rockets, who exhibited positive energy the rest of the way.

In the 54th minute, a Monmouth Regional player handled the ball 10 yards outside the box, setting up the Rockets with a free kick about 28 yards from the Monmouth Regional goal.

Senior Brooke Gaetani took the free kick and sent a shot toward the net that Monmouth Regional goalkeeper Fatima Aw could not corral. The rebound fell to senior Sydney Currie, who booted the ball home for her first goal of the season and a 2-0 lead.

Throughout the match, the Rockets controlled the pace of play and kept up the pressure in the attacking end of the field. Raritan was able to slow down the Falcons’ attack, which had produced 14 goals in the team’s two previous contests.

“We have been practicing pushing the ball forward and it’s coming together,” Florio said.

Freshman Elizabeth Fogarty scored her first high school goal in the 57th minute to cap the 3-0 win, which was Raritan’s second victory of the season. The Rockets improved to 1-1 in A Central play.

Junior goalkeeper Allison Dillon made nine saves in Raritan’s first shutout of the season.

Raritan (2-2) is scheduled to play Mater Dei Prep on Sept. 18 and host Shore Regional at home in Hazlet in an A Central match on Sept. 21.

Florio said she is pleased because it appears the squad will be able to play a full season after dealing with all of the obstacles the coronavirus pandemic caused in 2020.

The coach said the 2021 campaign has been “amazing” so far and said the players have been able to enjoy the type of off-field activities they were not able to enjoy in 2020.

“High school soccer is more than just being on the field. It is everything that goes along with it. A lot of memories the players create are really not on the field. We do a lot of events off the field together so we can carry that bond onto the field,” Florio said.

Update: Raritan improved to 3-2 on the season with a 6-2 victory over Mater Dei Prep. Senior Cheyanne Juntunen scored a game-high four goals in the Raritan victory. Johnson added in a goal and an assist as well for the Rockets.