Girls Soccer: 2nd Half Surge Sends Scotch Plains-Fanwood Past Watchung Hills and into Sectional Championship

The Raiders celebrate after Christina Rodgers' tie-breaking goal Tuesday. Credits: Matt Kipp
The Raiders' bench reacts after Christina Rodgers' goal Tuesday. Credits: Matt Kipp
Gina Fahrenholz scored a goal for the Raiders Tuesday. Credits: Matt Kipp
Christina Rodgers, #22, scored the first goal of the game in the second half Tuesday. Credits: Matt Kipp
Kerri McNeely's shot goes wide past Warrior goalie Kaylee Donnelly. Credits: Matt Kipp
Watchung Hills huddles before Tuesday's game. Their season ended with the loss to SP-F. Credits: Matt Kipp
Raiders line up to block a kick from Alexa Ferreira. Credits: Matt Kipp
The Raiders react after a misplay in their 'sloppy' first half. Credits: Matt Kipp
Gabby Aloe, #1, handles the ball Tuesday. Credits: Matt Kipp

WARREN, NJ – It took 64 dramatic minutes to sever a 0-0 tie, but the Scotch Plains-Fanwood girls’ soccer team pulled away with a 2-0 victory over the Watchung Hills Warriors Tuesday to advance to the NJSIAA North 2, Group 4 championship game.

The Raiders and Warriors played well into the second half knotted up with their seasons on the line. In the 24th minute of the second half, Christina Rodgers, a Providence commit, got a touch on a cross sent from Danielle Mrozek and sent it to the back of the net.

“We had a bunch of chances in the second half. It was getting frustrating in the beginning, because we were just getting shut down, so once we got that first goal, it really opened up the game,” Rodgers said.

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Mrozek, who sent the cross, said, “In practice, we’ve practiced going out wide and crossing it to the people crashing the box. Knowing that Christina [Rodgers] was able to get on the end of it was a pretty great feeling.”

After breaking the ice, the Raiders struck again on Gina Fahrenholz’ header seven minutes later. Fahrenholz, a junior, received a ball from Mrozek, got her head on it, and sent it passed goalie Kaylee Donnelly.

“As soon as Danielle [Mrozek] took it down the line, I knew that she was going to put it in, and I was the only person there so I knew I had to do something with it,” Fahrenholz said. “As soon as I got up in the air, I knew it was going to get in.”

Before the two goals, third-seeded Raiders and second-seeded Warriors were interlocked in a tight first half.

“The coaching staff was a little nervous. We did not play very well in the first half; we didn’t play with a lot of composure,” Raiders Head Coach Kevin Ewing said after the game.

SP-F blanked a potent Watchung Hills squad that averaged 3.7 goals per game entering the match and which had won the highly competitive Somerset County Tournament. The Raiders also shut down Melanie Cunha and Alexa Ferreira – both of whom have more than 20 goals on the season.

“Watchung Hills is an excellent team offensively. They have two girls that have over 20 goals [this year]. Our defense was solid and Andrea [Leitner] was solid,” Ewing said.

Earlier in the game, the Raiders had big scoring opportunities. In the second half, Kerri McNeely beat goalie Donnelly, but her shot went wide right. Late in the first half, senior Sophie Brause missed a close shot by the corner of the goal.

Goalie Andrea Leitner recorded six saves, while the Warriors’ Donnelly racked three.

By winning, Scotch Plains advances to the North 2, Group 4 Championship at SPFHS Friday. They will face Ridge, the defending Group 4 state champions, who defeated Westfield, 5-4, in penalty kicks. Scotch Plains beat Ridge in the 2014 sectional championship. The game will start at 2 p.m.

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