TOMS RIVER, NJ -- They are the champions!
The battle in the NJSIAA Regional Final between Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Toms River North was a scoreless battle through the first half of the game and 27 minutes into the second half when a Holly Nelson header found the back of the net off a free kick from Leah Klurman to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
Several minutes later, the floodgates opened, and the Raiders' most dangerous offensive weapon took control. Lyght hit a floater over the Toms River North goalkeeper, to put the Raiders up, 2-0. Four minutes later, she struck again and gave Scotch Plains-Fanwood a 3-0 lead with just with 20 minutes remaining. Not long afterward, the Lehigh commit completed the hat trick to give her team an insurmountable 4-0 lead.
"I think all the players allowed for us to wear Toms River down. Corinne actually came out on our first goal because she injured her hamstring," said Coach Kevin Ewing after the game. "Even with the injury she was able to showcase her talents and show why she is one of the best players in the state. It was an impressive feat."
What made this team so good?
"There were 28 girls on the team. That is a high number for a soccer team. However, all the kids brought into working hard each and every practice and each and every game," Coach Kevin Ewing told TAPintoSPF. "Some of our practice sessions were more competitive than our games. The work ethic of the kids allowed us to be successful. Kids that may not have played a lot for us allowed us to be successful. Those kids came each day and worked extremely hard to better themselves and better the team."
Was it expected?
"We were hopeful we would get this far. Personally, I was waiting for the season to be canceled because of the pandemic. It did not happen to us as it unfortunately did for other teams," Ewing said. "That was due to the kids being smart about what they did outside of soccer and being a little lucky. I truly feel bad for the kids on other teams that had their seasons cut short because of the pandemic."
"It was so great for the SPF kids -- the soccer players and other sports who were able to participate all fall," Ewing added. "It was good for all of them socially and emotionally."
Even with some key players graduating this year, the future looks bright for the Raiders.
"We have some great players returning next year," Ewing said.
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