BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Governor Livingston Highlanders girls’ soccer team fell to the Union Farmers, 3-1, on Saturday. The loss drops Governor Livingston to 1-1 while the Farmers won their first game of the season.
Senior Lindsay DiStaso scored Governor Livingston’s lone goal while Kayla Velosa-Lima, Nneka Moneme, and Alyssa Caggiano scored goals for Union.
Governor Livingston head coach Mike Roof was not too pleased with his team’s performance on Saturday.
“We didn’t play our best game today,” Roof said. “We had no energy at the beginning of the game and our opponent was more motivated than us.”
The Highlanders hung tough with the Farmers for the most part. They may not have showed the energy Roof would have liked to see in the game’s early going, but their defense was solid.
Both teams remained scoreless through the game’s first 22 minutes until Union’s Velosa-Lima scored a goal with 18:39 left in the first half.
Roof feels Velosa-Lima’s goal was moreso due to a concentration lapse on the Highlanders’ part.
“That first goal could’ve been avoided,” Roof said. “The goal was due to miscommunication defensively on our part. Their player took advantage of the miscommunication by breaking loose and getting behind our defense.”
The Highlanders certainly had their chances to score in the first half but were unable to capitalize on their advantage in possession time.
Several times the Highlanders penetrated deep into Union territory but failed to score.
“We did nothing with our possession time in the first half,” Roof said. “We needed to take more chances but didn’t.”
Roof and his team’s frustrations continued in the second half. The Highlanders were unable to convert on a free kick that would’ve tied the game early in the second half.
Union extended their lead to 2-0 when Moneme converted on a free kick with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game.
Moneme’s free kick came as a result of being pulled down from behind by a Governor Livingston player.
Moneme being pulled from behind was just a small taste of a rather physical game between the two rivals. Several players wound up on the ground as a result of the physicality. The game even featured a few minor “brushing” matches.
The game’s physicality didn’t surprise Roof. “The division we play in features a lot of tough, physical kids so the physical part is to be expected,” Roof said.
With Union being such a young team that graduated many of its players from last year, Roof was rightfully confident coming into the game. Roof admits the Highlanders may have had more experience and skill but the Farmers seemed to want it more.
“Skill-wise, I feel like we were better than them but they outworked us,” Roof said. “Skill means nothing when you don’t work hard.”
One player who did put in work was DiStaso, who Roof admits “played well”. DiStaso’s free kick goal put her team on the board with 9:06 remaining in the game.
Down 2-1, the Highlanders still had enough time to at least tie the game but were unable to. Union’s Caggiano’s goal with 6:56 remaining ended the Highlanders comeback hopes.
“Moving forward, I hope this game doesn’t define us,” Roof said. “I hope how we react to certain situations will be what defines us.”
Next, Gov. Livingston will face rival Scotch Plains on Thursday, Sept. 17 in Scotch Plains at 4 p.m.