SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD — Typically, the case with a Scotch Plains-Fanwood versus Westfield girls’ soccer game is that goals are at a premium, often coming after minutes of back and forth deadlock in the midfield. But on Saturday, it took the Raiders just three minutes to separate themselves from a Westfield team that they hadn’t beaten in four years.
Corinne Lyght scored on a header off a corner kick three minutes into the game, then put one in on a breakaway in 48th minute to lift Scotch Plains-Fanwood over Westfield, 2-0. Lizzie Ley and Faith Price distributed the assists for the unbeaten (4-0) Raiders, while goalkeeper Maya Kessler needed only three saves to shutout a Westfield team that scored six goals against SPF last year.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood last beat Westfield on October 31, 2015, and had dropped three decisions — including a state tournament game — and drew the county final with the Blue Devils last year.
“It was amazing today,” Lyght told TAPinto.net. “Just being able to score early is exactly what we wanted to do. We said, ‘Let’s score early’, because we knew if we scored early, we’d have the momentum and it’d carry us through the game.”
The two powerhouses stayed even for all of three minutes. In the third minute, Scotch Plains-Fanwood drew a corner kick after driving deep into Westfield’s defensive zone and made the most of it.
Lizzie Ley took the kick and sent a good ball between the six-box and penalty kick line. Breaking free from the crowd, Corinne Lyght separated herself and elevated above the pile. The sophomore met the ball with her head and sent it passed Westfield goalkeeper Caitlin Amman to the back of the net.
180 seconds in, the Raiders had a lead, and wouldn’t relent it for the rest of the match.
While Lyght gets credit for the goal, it shouldn’t be lost that Ley gets an assist, and that just further adds to her breakout campaign (3 assists, 1 goal in four games) this year. The junior has been playing on varsity since her freshman year. Now, getting a chance to shine, Ley is seizing the opportunity.
“It feels awesome, because I came in my freshman year with really good, experienced players and I always looked up to them,” Ley said. “It’s a really good feeling knowing that I’m becoming closer to them and I’m gonna work hard to get there.”
The Ley-to-Lyght hookup was all Scotch Plains-Fanwood needed to stay ahead. The Raiders’ backline featured combinations of Gabby Aloe, Maggie Traina, Leah Klurman, and Ashleigh and Rebecca Lancaster, and was outstanding Saturday in preserving the lead. It allowed Westfield to get off just three shots on goal, all of which Kessler saved.
By contrast, Westfield’s backline of Faith Dobosiewicz, Elise Fox, and Izzy Gauthier did pretty well too, limiting Scotch Plains to just seven shots while keeper Caitlin Amman made three saves. But the Blue Devil defense suffered a bit of a miscommunication in the 48th minute, and it sealed the deal for the Raiders.
Faith Price gained possession of the ball at midfield and shifted a line of Westfield defenders before sending a through ball up the field from the left flank. Lyght caught it in stride, beat her defender and then a charging Amman outside of the 18-box, and buried an uncontested shot into the empty net, giving the Raiders a 2-0 lead that would hold for the duration.
“The defender was bobbling the ball, we were pressuring it really well, she missed the pass, and I took it up,” Price said of how she set up the play. “I knew Corinne was gonna beat the defender, so I passed it to space and she did it.”
The goal was Lyght’s team-leading fourth of the season, and finished her first-multi goal game of 2018.
“She’s been doing excellent,” Ewing said. “She’s a tough player and they were putting someone on her, which is gonna happen a lot. But we have other kids that are able to set her up and give her opportunities, and that’s what we did.”
Both teams are expected to contend for state and county titles this year, and Westfield will get stronger in a few weeks when it receives some key players back from injury. But Scotch Plains-Fanwood now has all the momentum in the rivalry, and so far looks like one of the premier teams in both the county and section.
"We just told the girls to take it as another game," Ewing said. "Obviously, a big rivalry that the kids like winning, but they’re a young team and we’re a young team, so anything can happen."