WEST ORANGE, NJ - After a scoreless first half, Seton Hall Prep shifted gears and scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the second half to defeat Columbia High School, 4-0, and advance to the quarterfinals in the Essex County Tournament.
Senior Anthony Carracino and junior Abby Elsayed each contributed a goal and an assist to lead the Pirates offense to victory.
“In the first half we didn't expect them to be as aggressive as they were,” Elsayed said. “But we calmed ourselves down in the second half and played our game. We expected them to come out even harder but we were ready for that.”
The Pirates created many opportunities in the first half, but were unable to capitalize and find the net. Seton Hall Prep controlled the ball for most of the half and didn’t allow Columbia to penetrate its defensive line.
“We have a lot of senior leadership on defense and they’re tough as nails,” Pirates assistant coach David Snyder said. “They don’t want to get scored on and they want to get shutouts as much as they can.”
The Pirates came out in the second half with a lot of intensity and focus when Carracino found senior Liam Isola for the left-footed boot into the corner of the net. Five minutes later, Elsayed stole the ball from a Columbia defender and set up Carracino for an easy score.
Seton Hall Prep continued to attack when senior defender Jonathan Tiralosi passed the ball upfield to Elsayed who took it up the sideline and into the box, resulting in a low, hard shot under the diving keeper Josh Skoller. Elsayed’s goal and assist were only 34 seconds apart and Columbia found itself facing a three-goal deficit.
“We had to make a couple tactical adjustments in the second half,” Snyder said. “Columbia was packing the field so we needed to make sure we were patient. We needed to stay tough and stick to the game plan.”
Columbia continued to pressure the Pirates but the SHP defense held its own and denied any attempt the Cougars came at them with.
The Pirates scored their final goal with four minutes left in the game when junior Jack Sotelo sent a cross into the box that found senior Joe Morrison who launched a shot into the back of the net.
SHP used a platoon of goalkeepers that combined for six saves and a shutout.
The Pirates will continue play in the tournament on Wednesday.