BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - On Senior Night in Berkeley Heights Tuesday night, the Governor Livingston Highlanders girls soccer team defeated the North Plainfield Canucks, 2-0. With the win, the Highlanders improved to 3-7.
The 8 seniors shined bright for Governor Livingston on their special night that started with a ceremony to celebrate the 8 seniors: Paige Collins, Riley Jankowski, Emily Kiernan, Hannah Pennington, Meagan Place, Lara Romano, Meera Savage and Marcela Umana.
The seniors started the game, including Place, who had a season ending injury against Johnson in the Highlanders' first victory of the season.
The senior trio of Jankowski, Romano and Collins pretty much iced the game for the Highlanders when Collins scored her first varsity goal in memorable fashion for GL in the second half off a pass by Romano that was fed by Jankowski.
Sophomore Catalina Abusado scored the team’s other goal thanks to an assist from fellow sophomore Emily Pires.
Savage earned a shut out and recorded two saves while North Plainfield goalie Emely Velastegui recorded six saves.
The Highlanders energy and emotion, especially in the first half, played as big a role in the victory as anything.
“Night games bring out the best in us,” Jankowski said. “We came out with so much energy.”
One could argue that the Highlanders possibly had too much energy on Tuesday night.
Collins feels the team could’ve scored more had they been a bit more relaxed and patient.
“Everyone’s emotions were running so high tonight,” Collins said. “At first, we were missing a few shots but we started connecting on those shots at the end, which is most important.”
The first half saw many scoring opportunities on net with direct kicks, spot on corners and long range shots behind Penningston's powerful boot, as well as near miss shots by defenders Kiernan and Umana off Pennington feeds.
Tuesday’s game was a physical one between the two teams but Jankowksi and Collins both felt the Highlanders did a great job staying guarded. Jankowski and Collins credited head coach Mike Roof for helping to keep them stay grounded during physical contests.
“We knew the game would be physical coming in,” Jankowski said. “Coach always tells us not play down to the competition and I think we did a good job of that.”
“We did a good job letting that physical play bounce off of us tonight by not talking back,” Collins said.
Roof wouldn’t harp too much on the physical play of the Canucks and chose to focus on the play of his own team instead.
“In the first half, we had an extra level of energy and it’s tough to sustain those levels of energy for an entire game,” Roof said.
The Highlanders turning that energy into more goals would’ve been the perfect capper to a special night.
“We could’ve been more composed in front of the goal,” Roof said. “We’ve struggled to score at times this season so when those opportunities present themselves, we must take advantage of them.”
All in all, Roof was happy that his seniors came out with the victory on their night.
“The seniors contributed a lot tonight,” Roof said. “Hopefully, they enjoyed the moment because tonight was all about them.”
The Highlanders will host Elizabeth in the UCT on Saturday, October 8 at 11 a.m.