The rain began falling heavily as Randolph and Kearny squared off in the second round of the NJSIAA State playoffs. A hard fought first half saw a competitive game on both sides and a scoreless tie on the board for most of the game. But after a few rough challenges and more than a few yellows, a red card to Kearny proved too much to overcome as Randolph controlled play and went on to win 3-0.
After a productive yet fruitless first half spearheaded by Dana Shalit and Anna Conklin, Katja Bracklemanns Puig broke the tie 13 minutes into the second half. “It was a pass in from Esther Wellman,” said Puig after the game. “I made one move and I was right there," the junior striker continued. Her goal opened the scoring for a second straight game for Randolph.
After a Kearny try and save by sophomore goalie Rachel Fennel, Randolph turned up the pressure and played defense through offense. Randolph's Anna Conklin took over the scoring and added her 5th and 6th goals in the last 2 games. With 9 minutes left Conklin put a 21 yard free kick around a 2 player wall and the goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
With 3:50 left Conklin finished on a loose ball in front and put next rounds match-up into focus.
“Anna is so aggressive towards the net,” said Bracklemanns Puig when asked about playing with the competitive midfielder. “She just makes everyone better and demands the best from everybody.”
Monday's match-up with North 1 Group 4 top seed Montclair will require the Randolph girls to keep up their offensive onslaught, but most importantly continue their solid play on the back end, which will be tested by the high seeds and better competition. Rachel Fennel has been solid in net for Randolph but hasn't seen many shots in the last few contests, but has put up consecutive clean sheets.
For the Randolph girls, it would take more than a frozen rain to keep their spirits down. “They're appreciating it,” said Coach Colleen Suflay.
Monday's game will be at 21-1 Montclair.