SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD — Whenever Scotch Plains-Fanwood squares off against Westfield in girls’ soccer, low-scoring matches where one goal makes all the difference is an expectation.
Saturday afternoon lived up to that conjecture, as the Westfield Blue Devils pulled out a 1-0 victory in Scotch Plains, and also defeated their bitter rivals for the first time since 2011.
In the eighth minute of the second half, Faith Dobosiewicz of Westfield found the ball at her feet in front of the 18 yard box. The sophomore got the ball on a pass from Josie Greenwood, who sent a perfect pass that split Raiders defenders, creating wide-open space for Dobosiewicz.
Dobosiewicz then unleashed a rocket off her foot, and her strike soared right over the hands of Scotch Plains goalie Maya Kessler and cushioned the upper left-hand corner of the goal to sever the tie after 48 minutes of scoreless play. The goal provided Westfield with the lone score that ultimately proved to win the game.
“I saw that I had a lot of space, and I got a great pass. Melina McDevitt had a great pass to Josie Greenwood, who set me up for the shot, and I was just so thankful to get that pass,” Dobosiewicz, whose goal was the second of her varsity career, said. “It’s been a big rivalry for so many years, and we haven’t beaten this team in so long. To score and break that streak is really an amazing feeling; it’s amazing to beat Scotch Plains.”
Dobosiewicz’s impressive goal happened to be the lucky one of many shots from both teams to hit the back of the net. Following her goal, Scotch Plains-Fanwood made multiple bids to send the game into overtime. Among others, Erika Muskus missed a point-blank shot in the 27th minute of the second half and Danielle Mrozek also fell short on a pair of good-look shots a stone’s throw away from the goal later in the half.
All three were stopped in acrobatic fashion by Westfield goalie Caitlin Amman, who, by all accounts, had a breakout game Saturday.
“Last year, Caitlin sat behind Lizzie Brucia, going to University of Georgia, First Team, All-State, terrific player. I think Caitlin learned a lot from her, but also, I think there was this pressure of big shoes to fill, and she stepped up today,” said Westfield head coach Alex Schmidt. “There’s no bigger game for her to make big saves, and that’s what you want your keeper to do.”
Amman recorded six saves — three of them preserved Westfield’s tight lead after its goal.
On the other side of the pitch, missed opportunities cost Scotch Plains-Fanwood. The Raiders were able to muster up but unable to finish seven shots on goal, and also couldn’t execute scores on countless corner kicks.
“It’s just a long season and it’s a growing process. They’re going to start finishing those chances — it’s just a matter of keep believing you will,” said Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Kevin Ewing.
However, the Raiders walk away from the game with their heads high on defense. They held an always-forceful Westfield offense to just the one goal and consistently stymied the Blue Devils’ offensive looks.
“We always talk about team defense. I think the kids played well,” coach Ewing said. “Westfield’s goal was like the one good opportunity they had, and we had a girl get knocked down — there was no foul called — they got a girl with an open look, and she scored.”
While Scotch Plains was able to limit Westfield’s offense, Westfield was able to shutdown Scotch Plains’. The Blue Devils’ defense shutout its neighboring town for the fourth time is as many years.
“We knew Kerri McNeely and Corinne Lyght were really quick, and if we did give them the outside, they’re always going to send crosses in — that’s what they’re excellent at,” said coach Schmidt. “Even though they got chances, I don’t know that they got that many chances in the run of play. To shutout Scotch Plains is fantastic.”
While round one of at least two — who knows where these team can meet after the regular season — goes to the Blue Devils, the Raiders will have a shot at redemption on Oct. 7 in Westfield.
Until then, bragging rights belong to Westfield in the decades-old rivalry.