NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The Livingston girls soccer team tallied its third consecutive win on Monday with a superb 80-minute effort to defeat previously unbeaten West Essex, 2-1.
“It’s been a tough stretch,” said Livingston head coach Paul Raiz. “The first four games were not easy, but to come out 3-1 to start the year, we’re happy.”
The game’s decisive blow was dealt early in the second half in Livingston’s favor. Freshman Jadyn Liebman’s first career varsity goal was a timely one in the 41st minute to put Livingston up 2-0.
“[Liebman] is a very skilled player you can see,” said Raiz. “She may be diminutive size-wise, but on the field her knowledge and skill is outstanding.”
West Essex battled back and made a game of the contest, however, for the remainder of the half. Outshooting Livingston 8-5 for the half and 13-7 for the game, the Knights eventually found the back of the net. Vivian Onembo scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season to cut the Lancers’ lead in half.
“[Onembo] is lightning,” said West Essex head coach Allison Decker. “She just brings this tenacity, she brings strength and I think the girls just feed off of that.”
West Essex continued to pressure the Lancer defense to look for the game-tying goal. Chances in the 77th and 78th minute, however, were turned aside from Livingston goaltender Claudia Kamikow, who finished the game with 12 saves.
“[Kamikow] is a first-year varsity goalie and I thought she did a nice job in tough conditions,” said Raiz.
The Lancers struggled early on with the faster Knights squad putting pressure on their defense. Ultimately, the Lancers capitalized on one of their few first-half opportunities, as Lauren Belcuore connected for the game’s first goal in the 16th minute. Belcuore’s goal was her fourth in the last three games for Livingston.
“[Belcuore] is a worker first of all,” said Raiz. “She has a tremendous work ethic…she’s got no quit, she’s really refined her game and she’s probably one of the most dangerous strikers in our county and our conference.”
Although the loss is particularly disappointing for West Essex, the team can hold its head high. The now 3-1-1 Knights will look to take positives from the defeat and rebound as they take on Columbia on Thursday.
“I think we brought it and played to the very last second of the game,” said Decker. “I don’t think that anything went wrong, I just don’t think it went our way today…As far as I’m concerned it was great soccer out there and I’m really proud of our girls.”
Livingston improves to 3-1 after winning the last three and losing the season opener. The Lancers will look to continue on the winning path with a game against West Orange on Thursday.
“We always look one game ahead,” said Raiz. “That’s it, it’s onto the next game and we focus on West Orange, which is No. 5 or No. 6 in the state.”
West Orange is currently undefeated and is a “physical, super athletic team,” according to Raiz. The Lancers will focus on taking down yet another undefeated team on their home turf at 4 p.m.