SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD-- Fresh off an NJSIAA Regional Championship, the Joint Motion Physical Therapy Athletes of the Week are the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Lady Raiders Soccer team.
The match between Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Toms River North was scoreless through the first half of play, but just 27 minutes into the second half, Holly Nelson found the back of the net off a header on a corner kick from Leah Klurman to put the Raiders ahead 1-0.
Several minutes later the game was broken wide open and the Raiders' most dangerous top offensive player took the game into her own hands, despite an apparent injury. Lehigh University commit Corinne Lyght hit a floater over the Toms River North goalkeeper, to put the Raiders up, 2-0. Four minutes later, she gave Scotch Plains-Fanwood a 3-0 lead with just with 20 minutes remaining. Shortly afterwards, Lyght completed the hat trick to give her team a 4-0 lead, securing the victory.
This victory caps off a dominant season for the girls in which they dominated possession up and down the field, locked opponents down on defense, and had impeccable offensive firepower. The team finished the regular season 8-1-1, the defense and goalkeepers gave up just 3 goals all season.
Starting what would turn out to be a championship run, the girls began their playoff campaign with a dominant 4-0 victory over Union Catholic in the Quarterfinals of the Union County Tournament. Following this, their Semifinal matchup against Summit was canceled due to COVID-19. The girls were denied the chance of winning the championship when their would-be opponent, Westfield, went to all-remote due to outbreaks of the virus, which led to cancellation of the County Championship game.
Moving on to State Regionals, the Raiders began with a 9-0 domination of Sayreville. From there, they battled with Jackson Memorial in the Semifinal, where they came away victorious in a 1-0 game. Capping off their run in the 2020 NJSIAA Central East F Finals, the girls were able to hold off Toms River North to win the championship 4-0.
Was this the best girls team ever at SPFHS?
"We have had many successful teams over the years, so that's hard to say. At one point we won nine County titles in a row," said Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS athletic director Ryan Miller. "What's so remarkable about this team is that they stayed focused despite the obstacles related to COVID-19. To win this championship during a pandemic, with all the cancelations and uncertainty, puts them in a category all by themselves."
"I also think the team had four great coaches who deserve recognition for keeping the team focused and helping to guide them through this roller coaster of a season: Kevin Ewing, assistants Matt Tiedeman and Lauren Mains, and freshman coach Joe Higgins," Miller added.
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