Middletown, N.J. - The results to start the 2019 season has been nothing but picture-perfect for the Middletown South girls soccer team, who flew to a 10-0 mark on Monday afternoon.
In a tough-nose battle with rival Middletown North, the Eagles battled back from a one-goal deficit with junior Katie Coyle and senior Filomena Degregorio leading the way and hung on for a 3-1 victory.
“I think all the girls are really excited,” Middletown South coach Megan Barry said on her team’s perfect start to the season. “We’re playing good soccer in every game we’ve played. This team has the ability to compete with anyone. We’re going to take every game as it comes and do what we need to do to continue to put them away.”
Middletown North drew blood first with team-leading scorer Darien Rinn slapping home her eighth goal of the season in the fifth minute off an assist by Katelyn Reid to put the Lions up 1-0.
Facing a deficit for only the third time this season, Middletown South rebounded quickly to even things up.
Coyle got the Eagles on the board in the 16th minute, heading home a bouncing ball in front of the net that came off a free kick by Meghan Carragher to tie it up at 1-1.
“It was a tough start for us. It didn’t feel like the ball was bouncing our way,” Coyle said. “I knew Meghan (Carragher) could place the ball where she needs to and that I needed to get on the other end of it. I connected with it and it went in.”
Coyle now has seven goals on the season for the Eagles.
Degregorio shot the Eagles in front with 5:13 left to play in the first half.
Receiving a nice pass from teammate Angie Shekian, who tracked down the loose ball from the corner kick, Degregorio showed off her leg from the 17-yard line.
The senior sent in a booming beautiful overhead shot over Middletown North’s goalkeeper Ellie Kacen’s head into the net for her second goal in two days to give Middletown South a 2-1 lead going into halftime.
“If I get a touch on the other team’s half of the field and can see the goal, I like to give it a rip and see what happens,” Degregorio said. “Good things can come from that. It’s about getting it done in that big moment. It’s that adrenaline rush that kicks in and you know you need to get it done in that moment.”
Middletown South’s defensive center back has three goals on the season.
The Eagles added to its lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half at the expense of a defensive mishap by Middletown North.
Trying to get the ball out of the Middletown North zone in the 48th minute, a mistake by Middletown North’s Alyssa Imbriale to kick the ball back into the Lions’ net resulted in an own and a Middletown South score to extend its lead to 3-1.
A two-goal lead in hand in the final 30 minutes of play, the Eagles held off Middletown North the rest of the way to beat their rival for the first time since 2017.
The Lions had won the previous three meetings against their rivals.
“We felt like we had to make a statement, especially on their home turf after losing to them both times last season,” Coyle said. “This is a rivalry game and we needed to come out and be ready for it. It felt great to get the win.”
Middletown South senior goalkeeper Emma Bennett was great in net, racking up eight saves in the win for the Eagles.
Kacen finished with a game-high 10 saves for Middletown North.
The Lions drop to 4-4 on the season and will look to bounce back on Wednesday against Red Bank Regional.
“I thought when we played our style of soccer that we had success. We got away from that from time to time and that’s when we start to lose our style of play,” said Middletown North girls soccer coach Patrica Misciagna. “Middletown South is a great team and you can’t lose those chances when you play a team like that. Now, we rebuild. We’re going to take it one game at a time and get ready to play the next team.”
Middletown South will try to continue their winning ways to start the season when they travel to play Manalapan on Wednesday.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports