CHATHAM, NJ - The word "amazing" often comes up when Elizabeth Droner talks about how she feels following a big win by the Chatham girls soccer team in 2020.
Droner spread that feeling to her Cougar teammates on Friday when her penalty kick with 4:55 left in the game lifted Chatham to a 1-0 win over a talented Wayne Hills team in the semifinal round of the NJSIAA Northwest Regional at Haas Field.
Droner admitted to being nervous as she approached the kick, slotting it into the lower right corner of the goal as the Wayne Hills keeper made a guess move in the opposite direction. Seconds earlier, the senior striker had won the ball and was heading to goal when she was knocked down by a defender, drawing the whistle.
"The reality of it is, if she hadn't been brought down for the penalty, she probably would have scored anyway," Chatham coach Gary Adair said. "That little move, that little run with the ball it did enough. You don't want anybody else on a penalty than her."
Droner has scored in three straight games for No. 2 seed Chatham (13-1), which will travel to meet top-seeded Wayne Valley (12-1) Sunday at 1 p.m. in the regional championship game.
"When you get to this stage of any tournament you're going to play a good team," Adair said. "Wayne Hills is a very good team. They have very good players and they're well organized. Again, when you play games like this it always comes down to a set-piece or a piece of brilliance."
Droner notched her team-leading eighth goal of the season with her penalty kick (see below).
Droner had drawn the foul that led to her penalty kick when she won a ball and dribbled into the penalty area (see below).
Wayne Hills (9-2-1) was the best team Chatham had played all season and the Cougars talk about the game in the video below.
Wayne Hills had been pressing forward against Chatham in the early part of the second half.
"When you play in these games, there's going to periods where you have to soak in the pressure," Adair said. "You've got to be disciplined, you've got to be organized and pretty level-headed. The defense was brilliant."
Junior goalie Cate Hackett, who made nine saves, came up with a clutch save in the final minute by leaping to bat away a high shot. Hackett has posted shutouts in four of the last five games behind a defense that includes Olivia Garman, Isabelle Spagnuolo, Alyssa Mojares, Paige Droner, Meryn Dziemian, Leigha Matter and Cleo Bley.
COUGAR NOTES: Chatham has outscored its opponents, 37 to 9, this season with 12 different players netting goals. The goal scorers for the Cougars in 2020 are Elizabeth Droner (8 goals, 8 assists), Ashley Kiernan (7 goals, 8 assists), Sophie Straka (4 goals, 5 assists), Remmey McEnroe (4 goals 1 assist), Olivia Garman (3 goals, 1 assist), Kayleigh Coughlin (3 goals), Caitrioina Logsdon (2 goals, 3 assists), Leigha Matter (2 goals), Paige Droner (1 goal, 9 assists), Audrey Van Wie (1 goal), Meryn Dziemian (1 goal) and Callie Regan (1 goal) ... Wayne Valley (12-1) has won 12 in a row since its 1-0 opening loss to Wayne Hills. The Indians have outscored their opponents, 55-3, with 30 of those goals coming in four games against Passaic Valley and West Milford (2 each) ... Junior Kelsey Ramos paces Wayne Valley with 14 goals and 9 assists, backed up by senior Ava Whisten (11 goals, 8 assists) and junior Emily Jozak (10 goals 4 assists).