NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- The New Providence girls soccer team opened its season with a 1-0 victory over Elizabeth at home Thursday afternoon, and the Pioneers did so with a goal that their coach virtually predicted earlier in the week.

The Pioneers scored early and their staunch defense kept Elizabeth from mounting many threats the rest of the way.

Less than three minutes into the game, New Providence took the lead when senior midfielder Juliana DeGeorge sent a cross from the right side into the box. Senior forward Sophia Mariniello went up for the high pass and, at the apex of her leap, headed the ball past the Elizabeth goalie into the net for a 1-0 Pioneer lead.

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"It's funny. We always want to start fast, but after a practice earlier this week, we actually said that one of our goals early this season was to score a headed goal off a cross," said New Providence head coach Scott Murphy. "We are not too tall a team, so we don't get our heads on attacking balls like that too often, but we did it just two minutes into our season."

Freshman Carleigh Robinson, in her varsity debut, posted the shutout in goal for New Providence. She stopped four shots by Elizabeth.

"Carleigh was focused and communicated well with the back line," Murphy said. "I'm sure she might have been nervous playing her first game, but she got herself mentally into the game and handled herself very well."

Elizabeth had few offensive opportunities against a New Providence back line led by seniors Maddy Englebrechtsen, Alexa Boyle and Paola Salazar and junior Amy Maurer, who combined to keep Elizabeth's attack in check.

"We knew Elizabeth would be a tough opponent. We played them twice last year, and beat them, 1-0, once, and lost to them, 1-0," Murphy said. "For a lot of our girls, this was our first varsity game. We fought hard together, and I think there will be a lot of growth from this game."