CRANFORD - If you haven't bought-in to the potential of the Cranford High School's girls soccer program yet, it might be time.
On Tuesday, the Cougars defeated Union, No. 17 in the state according to NJ.com, 3-1. Cranford, who entered the week unranked, may have pulled off the biggest upset of the year on Thursday with a 4-1 victory over Westfield, who sits at No. 8 in the same poll.
Yes, beating a top-10 team is huge, but the biggest part of the story is that Westfield entered Thursday with a 42-game (34-0-8) unbeaten steak, including back-to-back co-North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Championships.
"Today was a complete showcase of what we've been working on all season," said Cranford head coach Andrew Gagliardo. "In the terms of the mental attitude, the work rate, the togetherness, and the chemistry, it all just came together today. We came out on fire and handled business the way we should have."
In a completely team effort, Sofia Ambrosio, Riley Korzeneski, Lauren Williamson, and Kenzie Butler each scored a goal. Williamson also had an assist while Maggie Murray tallied two. All season it has been a team effort with no one-single person carrying the load. Ambrosio, Korzeneski, Williamson, Butler, and Murray each are tied for the team-lead with two goals.
"I told the girls after the game, 'Seeing you girls out there playing this well is fun.' It's fun to watch, fun for them to play, and it's really starting to click," added Gagliardo. "The fact that it's only the end of September gives me a lot of hope and promise that there's better things to come."
It hasn't been the perfect season though. Cranford currently sits at 3-1 on the year after dropping a 2-0 decision to No. 10 Watchung Hills last Saturday. Since then, the Cougars have taken down two top programs, and have their sights set on another powerhouse and rival.
"It's Westfield, Scotch Plains(-Fanwood), and Cranford. That's usually the way things go, said Gagliardo in terms of rivals. "Westfield and Scotch Plains usually go back and forth, but Cranford has always seemed to be that third team that's kind of on the outside. Obviously the streak was huge and we wanted to end that, but we also wanted to show that we're not kidding around this year."
Cranford will have its chance at No. 9 Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Tuesday, September 25th.