The Holmdel High School and Wall High School girls soccer teams were tied 0-0 after a full 80 minutes of regulation time in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II state sectional tournament championship match on Nov. 12 in Holmdel.
The Hornets and the Crimson Knights would be permitted to play a maximum of two 10-minute overtime periods and the match would end immediately with a “golden goal.” If the score remained tied after 100 minutes of play, the match would be decided on penalty kicks.
Before the Hornets took the field to begin overtime, Coach John Nacarlo told his players he knew they were going to score and that the match would not be decided by penalty kicks.
Sure enough, Holmdel scored and it did not take the Hornets long to do so.
In the first minute of overtime, senior Juliana Kolbasovsky scored her 10th goal of the season to lift Holmdel to a 1-0 victory over the visitors from Wall Township. The 2021 Hornets won the school’s first state sectional tournament title since 2015.
YOUR 2021 CJ GROUP II CHAMPIONS: The Holmdel HS girls soccer team (@HHSGirlsSoc20)! CC: @central_jersey @HolmdelHornets @HolmdelHS #NJSoccer ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/Rcvt6hoqZt
— Steven Bassin (@SBassin_Sports) November 12, 2021
“It feels so good,” Kolbasovsky said. “I had space in front of me and decided to take a shot and I’m so glad it went in. I’m so happy.”
Moments earlier, Kolbasovsky had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of regulation. Wall goalkeeper Nelly Bianchi received a yellow card for stalling with the ball to run out the clock. Bianchi was replaced in goal by Saige Santa Cruz.
Following the yellow card, the Hornets were awarded an indirect kick just outside the Crimson Knights’ 18-yard box. Kolbasovsky took a pass from Taylor Bielan and put a shot on net that was saved by Santa Cruz.
Kolbasovsky later said she was angry with herself for not putting the ball where she wanted to and vowed to do better on her next chance.
That opportunity came in the first minute of overtime as Kolbasovsky dribbled up the right sideline into Wall’s zone and powered the game-winner into the back of the net.
She enjoyed the moments that followed as her teammates raced toward her to celebrate the “golden goal.”
“Seeing everyone surround me after I scored was so nice,” Kolbasovsky said. “I’m so glad it was my time to help the team win.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Juliana Kolbasovsky scored the GW Golden Goal in OT to help Holmdel (@HHSGirlsSoc20) defeat Wall 1-0 & win its first sectional championship since 2015. CC: @HolmdelHornets @HolmdelHS @central_jersey #NJSoccer ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/b6K4wsNd25
— Steven Bassin (@SBassin_Sports) November 12, 2021
With the win over Wall, Holmdel (17-1-1) has advanced to the Group II state tournament semifinals. The Hornets will host Haddonfield on Nov. 17 with a trip to the Group II title match on the line.
Holmdel last won the Group II state title in 2014 with a 1-0 win over Ramapo.
“It’s awesome,” senior Alexandra Wojie said of winning a state sectional tournament championship. “We always knew we had the talent to do it. It was just when we would put all the pieces together and work as a team.”
Winning sectional and state titles is not new to Nacarlo, who previously coached the Holmdel boys to three state championships.
Adding a girls state sectional crown meant a lot to Nacarlo, who said he was proud to see his players finish what they started in 2020.
A year ago, the Hornets were 15-0 before the program was shut down due to COVID-19. Holmdel was unable to compete in the regional tournament that replaced the traditional state sectional tournament for one season as the pandemic swept through New Jersey.
“Our whole thing this year was to finish it together,” Nacarlo said. “We wanted to finish what we didn’t get to finish last year. We were able to get it done. It wasn’t easy. Wall did a great job. We struggled getting the ball in the net, but Juliana finally got one.”
Senior goalkeeper Katrina Walier made four saves against Wall to secure her fourth shutout in the team’s last six matches.
The Hornets scored 16 goals in four state sectional tournament contests. Senior Katie Vassilakos scored five goals in those matches and leads the team with 22 goals.
Vassilakos said she could not have imagined a better way to end her high school career than with the tremendous season she has had and helping the Hornets win a state sectional tournament championship.
“It’s a great way to go out. There is no better way to have a senior season. I hope we can go all the way and win a state championship, too,” she said.
From not having an opportunity to complete the 2020 season to winning a state sectional title a year later, the Hornets have done what they set out to do by writing their story together.
The story is not over with the Group II state tournament ahead of them, but the Hornets are thrilled to have won a title to showcase the success they have had in 2020 and 2021.
“I wanted this for all the girls who were here with us last year. This is what we missed out on last year. It’s special to get this far. It’s not easy to do. To get it done and to win it is a big deal for them and they should be proud,” Nacarlo said.