CLARK, NJ - Governor Livingston High School senior Riley Jankowski scored two goals to help lift the Highlanders to their first win of the 2016 season over the Johnson Crusaders Saturday morning in Clark. The final score was 3-1.
She scored her first goal on a penalty kick at 7:12 of the first half, beating Johnson senior goaltender Meaghan Gallagher to give the Highlanders the 1-0 lead. She added her second goal of the game at 16:48 of the second half to put her team up for good.
“I feel like that this win is a confidence-booster for our team,” Jankowski said. “We had the roughest five games starting in the season [including] Westfield and Scotch Plains. I think that after that first penalty kick and after Meaghan Place got hurt, we wanted to win this game. It’s definitely a confidence booster for our team going into the games for the rest of the season because we felt down on ourselves.”
The Highlanders were 0-5 on the season, but Jankowski said their early match-ups were against larger, stronger and faster teams.
“When we play schools our size, we definitely are the stronger team,” she said.
Although the teams traded chances back and forth during the first half, the Crusaders were unable to score until sophomore Natalya Torres put one past Highlander goalie junior Michelle Coyle at 2:00 of the second half.
A close Crusader shot at 14:00 in the second hit the top post and stayed out, keeping the game tied 1-1 for the moment.
Sophomore Camila Howard registered an assist on Torres’ third goal of the season. Gallagher had four saves on seven shots on net for Johnson in the loss.
Jankowski added her second goal, and then a penalty kick goal by senior Hannah Penington gave the Highlanders a 3-1 lead at 30:52 of the second half. The Highlanders held the Crusaders down, and secured their first win of the season.
“I just had to explain to them that a lot of schools our size had a tougher opening five like we did,” Governor Livingston girls soccer head coach Mike Roof said. “I told them we have to keep our heads up, play well and do a couple of extra things, get some luck here and there too.”
“[In a next] few games, maybe we’ll see a difference in the results,” Roof said. “We’re capable of doing certain things and sometimes we handle ourselves and we are very composed, we can do a lot more than what we show at times. Today was a good example of that.”
Coyle shined in net, only allowing one goal on seven shots. She was supported around the net by a strong defense.
“It’s now going to give us a lot of momentum moving forward,” Coyle said. “Now that we have our confidence, I think that we now know that we can be the team that we want to become and I think this is really going to help us moving forward.”
Injuries plagued both the Highlanders and the Crusaders on Saturday.
GL senior Meghan Place went down with an apparent knee injury early on in the first half. She was helped off the field and evaluated on the sideline. Roof was optimistic that the injury didn’t appear to be serious.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Place said after the game, her knee wrapped. “For the most part, I’ll be like a few days off, but I’m hoping to get back soon and get back in the game.”
For Johnson, senior Tatiana Nieto was out with an ankle injury, and senior and co-captain Jess Gannon had a back injury.
“We had two injuries coming into our starting lineup and our third defensive starter was down too, so I think that really caught our girls off-guard,” Johnson head coach Meredith Peitz said. “As a result, we had some rookie varsity players on the field. At the end of the day, the whole team got some great experience today out of the game.”
ALJ junior Nicole Buczynski went down near the end of the first half with what appeared to a knee injury. She needed help to get off the field and did not return to the game.
“Her parents took her to go get her knee checked out and we’re hoping for the best,” Peitz said.
The Johnson Crusaders (6-1) look to rebound from their first loss of the season when they play their next game Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. against Roselle Catholic High School at home.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (1-5) face off against New Providence High School in a home game Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
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