NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Grace Kelly has entered "high society" in New Providence.
Kelly, a freshman, was called up from the junior varsity last week and pressed into service as the girls' soccer team was hit with a rash of injuries.
On Thursday afternoon, Kelly made a splash in just her second varsity game, scoring twice in leading the 12th-seeded Pioneers to a 2-1 decision over 13th-seeded Kent Place in the opening round of the Union County Tournament at Lieder Field in New Providence.
"Because of the injuries and the way she's performed on the JV we moved her up to the varsity," said New Providence head coach Scott Murphy of Kelly. "She's getting some playing time and today made the most of it."
After a scoreless first half, New Providence broke through when Kelly scored off a rebound from Cate Munn's initial shot caromed over to her about five minutes into the second half.
Kelly then scored again about 10 minutes later from 20 yards out after she ripped a shot past the Kent Place goalie.
Kent Place (2-9) got on the scoreboard when they tallied with 20 minutes remaining in the game.
Goalie Carleigh Robertson, another freshman, anchored the defense with a seven-save performance.
"Carleigh made some big saves for us while the game was scoreless and also after we had the lead," said Murphy. "And Grace's sister, Hannah Kelly is a junior and was also just called up and she's played well too."
The game Thursday was New Providence's first in a full week, but Murphy says the layoff was beneficial to his squad.
"The last game we played (a 2-1 victory over Johnson on Sept. 26) was our fifth game in eight days so it was good to have a bit of a break," said Murphy.
"We were really just feeling them out in the first half. It was misting and drizzling but the rain really had no effect on our play on the turf."
New Providence (6-3-2) will now meet fifth-seeded Oak Knoll in a UCT second round game on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Oak Knoll's athletic fields in Chatham at a time to be determined. The winner will advance to the quarterfinal round on Saturday, Oct 12 to face fourth-seeded Gov. Livingston.
"I told the team how important this game was for us to advance in the counties and also get some power points heading into the states," said Murphy. "Oak Knoll is one of the top teams in the county and will be a favorite so we'll go there with the attitude that's there's nothing to lose."