BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Gov. Livingston girls’ soccer team got outworked for most of their match on Thursday against New Providence.
Still, with their backs against the walls, the Highlanders scored twice in the final 15 minutes to beat the Pioneers, 3-2, at Gov. Livingston High School.
“I didn’t really see it from the kids today,” Gov. Livingston head coach Mike Roof said. “We were outworked for long, long stretches today. There’s enough quality here where we can get ourselves back in a positive result, and we did that.”
Facing a one-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes, Julia Stirpe led the Gov. Livingston charge with the game-tying tally in the 65th minute.
A little more than 5 minutes later, Stirpe found the ball again, this team towards the right corner, where she served the ball to a waiting Isabella Bjorkeson, who headed in the game-winner.
After seeing how the clinching goal came to be, Roof hopes to see more movement, both on and off the ball.
“Its moving without the ball, moving into the positive spaces,” Roof said. “We got the ball into a wide, servable area. Isa got separation from her mark. That was a strong cross and she just buried it with her head. You can serve another kid in her place and I don’t know if we finish it. She left no doubt.”
Stirpe and Bjorkeson’s late heroics erased a very strong start for the Pioneers, who controlled the pace for the majority of the game.
After falling down a goal early, Erin Fay and Lexi Everton both scored off one-on-ones with the goalkeeper.
Pioneers head coach Scott Murphy said he wasn’t worried about going down a goal, because they’ve showed they can be resilient all year.
“Because we play some tough teams, we’ve gotten down before and we always talk about how to play with a one-goal lead and a one goal-deficit,” Murphy said. “Its always the same, just keep plugging away and keep trying and hopefully you get the breakthrough. We got that at the end of the half. To get the second one to go up, was great.”
With big games still to come for the Highlanders and Pioneers, both head coaches hope to use this game as a stepping-stone for the future.
Gov. Livingston has a match with Millburn on Thursday as a final tune-up before facing Union in the Union County Tournament semifinal at Arthur L. Johnson High School on Saturday, while New Providence continues their final week of the regular season play on Thursday at Elizabeth.