MADISON, NJ- The Madison-Hanover Park sports rivalry has blossomed into one of the area’s finest since the statewide realignment of 2009 created the NJAC, most definitely including girls soccer.
In a rematch of last year’s North II, Group II sectional final, it was the visiting Hornets who left town with the victory yesterday.
After taking a 1-0 lead after half an hour of play, Hanover Park (2-3) added a late second goal with under two minutes remaining in regulation to notch a 2-0 victory over Madison at Ted Monica Stadium.
The Dodgers, making their home debut, fall to 1-2 on the young season and 0-2 in the NJAC-Liberty Division loop. Madison lost its division opener to Parsippany this past Saturday.
“Honestly, I’m quite pleased with the way we played today,” said Madison head coach Kevin Lynott, “(Hanover Park) is a good, talented side, and I wanted to see how we’d respond after the loss on Saturday. Our girls played hard.”
Early on, both midfields got off to a fast start and neither side was really able to gain a possession advantage. Eleven minutes in, Hornets striker Gianna Zarra ripped a hard shot on the Madison goal, but the attempt soared over the upper right corner of goal.
However, seventeen minutes later, Hanover Park did find the back of the net. Midfielder Gabby Barquin threaded a pass into the talented Zarra, who made a move to avoid a Dodgers defender and proceeded to sneak a low but paced, left footed shot past an outstretched Madison keeper Mika Lesham on a 1-on-1 breakaway to make it 1-0.
Madison had a great opportunity to even the score just four minutes later in the 35th minute. From about 15 yards away from goal, forward Katie Flanagan—who made plays for the Dodgers all over the field—laced a low bending shot on goal, but the attempt was corralled by Hanover Park goalie Jill Carille to preserve the lead going into half.
Less than a minute into the second half, Zarra broke free on goal again, but was this time stoned by Lesham to keep the deficit at one. Lesham, a senior in goal, had a great performance in goal, turning away 7 shots.
“I thought Mika and our defense as a whole also played very well. I want for us as a team to get better as the season goes on, game to game, and our girls showed that today,” said Lynott.
At just under eight minutes to play, Madison forward Ali Wixgiser found some open space just inside the 18 yard box, took aim on net, but hit the shot just over the bar.
Needing to equalize, the Dodgers had to press forward and put numbers forward to try and equalize, which allowed the Hornets to double their lead in the closing seconds. Alyssa Viegas collected a pass from Jackie Vargas and finished off the 2-0 victory for the East Hanover school.
Madison will try to get back to the .500 mark on Saturday, when they will host Morristown-Beard in a 9:30 AM matinee.
Hanover Park: Gianna Zarra, 31st minute
Hanover Park: Alyssa Viegas, 79th minute