LIVINGSTON, NJ – An unassisted goal by Antalia Pena and successful goalkeeping by Grace Carroll brought the game to a 1-1 tie at halftime, but Livingston’s offense swept past the Bloomfield Bengals in the second half for a 3-1 victory in the first round of the NJSIAA Tournament Monday afternoon.  

“We were a little too direct,” Bengals Head Coach Jon Aliaga said in a post-game interview. “Although we had some speed up top, we should have had a little more variation on our attacks.”

Lauren Belcuore netted two goals for fourth-seeded Livingston, while her teammate Ashley Reuter scored one. Sarah Miller recorded two assists and another assist came from Avery Conklin.

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Carroll made 14 saves for the Bengals on Monday and totaled 75 in 2017.

Finishing their season at 7-11-1 and in the 13th-seed, the Bengals have come a long way since their 4-14-1 year in 2016. In addition to Carroll’s stellar goalkeeping, Antalia netted 11 goals and three assists.

Brianna Trigueros-Pericone scored seven goals and Julia Nephew completed her junior season with six goals and four assists.

“We fought really hard this season and our tenacity also improved,” Aliaga told TAPinto Bloomfield. “We had a lot of tough losses, but we never gave up. We’re always in the fight and that’s something we will continue to build on for next year.”

Aliaga praised his team for their offensive and defensive enhancements throughout the season.

“We’ve improved our ability to keep the ball at our feet and read the game more both offensively and defensively, so I think they’re becoming much more knowledgeable about the game of soccer.”

However, the coach would like to see even better ball handling next season.

“They need to keep the ball in their possession, so that we can keep the game in our hands,” he said.

While the season has come to an end for the Bengals, Livingston has advanced to the second round of the NJSIAA Tournament where they will take on fifth seeded West Orange.