SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD -- Close, high-scoring battles are not something the Scotch Plains-Fanwood girls’ soccer team has become accustomed to this season. Nonetheless, the Raiders came out victorious in their seventh consecutive game, defeating Cranford by a score of 4-3 in a seesaw battle at Wexler Field Tuesday afternoon.
With the score knotted up at three apiece and just two minutes left in the game, the Raiders capitalized on a prime scoring opportunity. Taylor Diggs sent a ball over top to Kerri McNeely, who was waiting just inside the 18-box. With Cranford goalie Emily Lenox running out of the goal to stop the ball, McNeely secured the pass and lifted a strike with the perfect trajectory that sailed above Lenox but sunk just before the goal, cushioning the net to provide the Raiders with the winning score.
While the goal provided the Raiders with their seventh consecutive victory and eighth overall this season, head coach Kevin Ewing was not pleased with his team’s performance. The coach provided TAPinto.net with one brief statement following the game: “We did not deserve to win. That’s it. The end.”
Meanwhile, Cranford players walked out of Wexler Field positively with their heads held high, playing exceptional soccer against a team that defeated the Cougars, 5-0, just three weeks ago. Cranford countered every Raider move until McNeely’s game-winning score, and even held a lead at one goal late in the game.
With 10 minutes remaining in the match, Grace DiGiovanni got her head on a corner kick and sent from Maggie Murray and directed the ball past Scotch Plains goalie Maya Kessler and between the posts. The goal provided Cranford with a brief 3-2 lead that it held onto for all of six minutes, before Corinne Lyght netted the equalizer for Scotch Plains-Fanwood on a breakaway goal.
Lyght’s score was her second of the afternoon. She got the match started for the Raiders by finishing a deep ball sent from Erika Muskus in the 17th minute of the first half. Muskus passed the ball from beyond the midfield line, which Light received in front of the goal and beat goalie Lenox before dribbling to the left side of the goal and burying a strike beyond the reach of a Cranford defender standing between the pipes.
Cranford responded seven minutes later when Caroline McCaffery scored after a corner kick bounced off multiple heads before finding McCaffery’s.
Lizzie Ley netted her first goal of the season in the 15th minute of the second half, which provided the Raiders with their first score of the half. Ley ran in through a scrum near the goal on a free kick, and got her head on the ball floated perfectly from the foot of Taylor Diggs.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood goalie Maya Kessler recorded 12 saves in the net, while Cranford’s Lenox prevented 10 balls from entering the goal.
The Raiders outshot Cranford, 12-9.
Next up for Scotch Plains-Fanwood is New Providence, whom the Raiders host on Thursday at 4 p.m. before preparing for the heavily anticipated second match of the season against Westfield on Saturday. Meanwhile, Cranford also plays Thursday, paying Gov. Livingston a visit.