ROXBURY, NJ- While the Randolph girls’ soccer team has certainly had their fair share of success in recent years, the senior laden 2019 team has taken it to another level. In what seemed to be their destiny, the Lady Rams took the Morris County Tournament title home on Saturday Oct. 19 by defeating Kinnelon 1-0.
“Winning the County tournament is wonderful, particularly with this special group of seniors,” said coach Colleen Suflay. “It has been on their radar since freshman year, and even before that when I was training many of them in middle school. I am so excited for them, they really deserve it.”
The Rams were the No. 1 Seed, and even though Kinnelon was the No. 10 seed, they clearly should have been much higher seed as they came into the finals with an almost identical record as the Rams at 12-1-3.
The teams spent most of the first half feeling each other out, and while both had scoring chances, the Lady Rams won the possession battle and controlled the ball for the majority of the half.
Wide midfielders Kiki Ianacconni and Dylan Bodnar patrolled the sidelines, advancing the ball up-field with regularity, while strikers Claire Doto and Lauren Robles created pressure up the middle with aggressive rushes towards the net. Despite the pressure, the half ended tied and scoreless at 0-0.
When the second half started however, the Colts turned the tide by picking up their offensive pressure. Spending much of the first 15 minutes deep in the Rams end, they sent a flurry of balls towards goalie Ellie Sciancalepore.
“We had to change our formation a bit in the start of the second based on how they started playing that half,” said Captain Becca D’Egidio. It was a challenge for us but we changed our tactics a bit and pulled our forwards and midfielders back a bit to help.”
But, the Rams senior goalie Ellie Sciancalepore, along with her senior line of defense in Alyssa Alfieri, Haley Tamres, Becca D’Egidio, and Brenna McConnell, turned away every ball that came their direction.
Randolph was finally able to switch the field, and after pushing the ball deep into the offensive end, they caught a break.
Robles sent a cross into the box, and the ball went off a defenders head and into the Kinnelon net, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead.
Randolph played a bit more defensive to preserve the lead, and that became even more evident when a red card left them one man short for the final 9 minutes of the game.
While effectively clearing the ball over and over as the clock wound down, the Rams did endure one last second scare. A shot towards their net was collected by Sciancalepore just steps before a Colts attacker could reach it. The Lady Rams Captain punted it away as the final seconds ticked off and the celebration started.
“It is an amazing feeling to win Counties with these girls, we mesh so well because we have played together for so long,” said Bodnar. “To be able to play my senior year with the same girls I have played with since third grade makes it so much more special. Coach Suflay always tells us that our class has a great “get it done” mentality, and I think we did that tonight.”
Sciancalepore, who now has 10 shutouts this season, was selected tournament MVP for her performance.
“Every pre-season training camp, every six or eight AM practice, every mile time I had to go through was worth it,” said Sciancalepore. “Every single thing I had to go through to be here and win this game was 100 percent worth it. Winning MVP was a nice bonus for me, but I am just happy to win this championship with all my girls.”
When asked about her goalies performance, Suflay had glowing words for the senior.
Every year Ellie has gotten better and better, and she accepts the challenge and responsibility of her position”, said Suflay. “Ellie works hard all year long and has great chemistry with the strong defense in front of her. This title and the MVP award for her is well deserved”