CLARK, NJ- Arthur L. Johnson High School senior goaltender Tina Palella recorded her second shutout in two games as the Crusaders defeated the Governor Livingston High School Highlanders by a final score of 3-0 Saturday afternoon in Clark.
After having a strong preseason, she is now making the most of her opportunity in net. She stopped all eight shots from Governor Livingston that came her way in goal.
“The defensive line makes my job easy because they do a very good job pushing the ball up,” Palella said. “The goalie coach [Chris Cabaan] and Coach Leeder put me through the right training that makes me prepared for those kinds of saves.”
The closest chance for Governor Livingston came in the final five minutes of the second half, a short kick from a side of the net was scooped up by Palella and cleared out to preserve the shutout. She spoke of the crucial moves that were made to avoid allowing the goal.
“Right when I make a save, the defensive line pushes everyone up and right from there the girls do an excellent job on pushing the ball up for more scoring opportunities,” Palella added.
Following the huge save in front, Palella sent the ball the length of the field and junior Natalya Torres sealed the game, scoring on a one-on-one chance with Highlanders senior goaltender Michelle Coyle, making the score 3-0 Johnson at the 36:24-mark of the second half.
“I just went one-on-one with the goalie [Coyle],” Torres said. “I just saw my opportunity and I saw the lower right corner, I just went for it.”
Following a few back-and-forth sequences between the two teams, Johnson opened the scoring with a deflection near the area of the net, the goal going to junior Cecilia Puentes, assisted by junior Colleen Sullivan. The goal came at the 5:48-mark of the first half, giving the Crusaders the 1-0 lead.
Governor Livingston would battle and almost got themselves the game-tying goal, but Palella prevented the Highlanders from getting to the net. Johnson defense, prevented any setups for Governor Livingston, as they did in the Elizabeth HS home opener Thursday.
The Crusaders led the Highlanders by a score of 1-0 at halftime.
As the second half started, the teams went back-and-forth at both ends of the field, but no goals were scored. Johnson set up a decent number of chances on offense, but couldn’t quite get the finish they were working for all second half. The score remained 1-0 for almost the first portion of the second half.
“I thought we defended well and that we countered well, but couldn’t finish the chances,” Johnson first-year head coach Ken Leeder said. “We played hard and eventually, we got some of the goals late to seal the deal, it was a battle.”
The Highlanders would once again try and regain momentum, throwing everything they could, but Johnson’s defense held them down.
After a series of pushing and grinding by themselves, the Crusaders finally broke through to get the insurance goal to hold a comfortable lead. Johnson sophomore Lily Gull helped to end the offensive drought with a goal at the 22:56-mark of the second half, giving Johnson a 2-0 lead.
Governor Livingston continued to fight and almost put one at the back of the net, but couldn’t get anything as the game went on.
“We continue to do everything that I feel, things that are routine and we don’t end up fulfilling those things,” Governor Livingston head coach Mike Roof said. “Every time we start a game, we always fall behind 1-0, we’ve gone down 1-0 inside of five minutes in each of our three games.”
Last year, Governor Livingston defeated Johnson by a final score of 3-1 in the only meeting of the season.
The Johnson Crusaders (2-0) play their next game at home Tuesday afternoon against Benedictine Academy HS at 4:00 p.m.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (1-2) head out on the road to play at Summit HS Tuesday morning at 4:00 p.m.
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