UNION, NJ — When Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Union get together, there’s always the possibility that something crazy can happen.
After all, their showdown in last year’s Union County Tournament semifinals could go down as one of the wildest games the county has seen in decades. That was reflective of all three games between the two last season, in which the Raiders won the season series by a combined score of 9-8, with all three contests being dictated by a goal.
In that barnburner of a UCT semifinal, the Raiders scored five goals, and matched that total against Union Tuesday in both teams' first meeting since that evening late last October -- though left little doubt about this one.
Corinne Lyght scored two goals and dished out an assist to help send Scotch Plains-Fanwood past Union, 5-2, while the Raiders pulled away from a once 2-1 game with three straight goals in the second half Tuesday afternoon in Union. Leah Klurman netted a goal and also contributed an assist, Lizzie Ley, Rachel Schoss, and added goals for the Raiders, who rebounded in their first game removed from their first loss of the season last Thursday. Gia Milano and Alexa Fazio added assists. Maya Kessler came up with 4 saves.
Ana Brun and Reagan Levy scored a goal apiece for Union, which did convert on half of its shots (4), though the Farmers certainly strive to improve upon that mark as the games start getting more serious in the near future. Faith Cardillo came up with eight saves for the Farmers.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood out-shot Union, 22-4, as the Raiders finished the first of two cycles through their Union County Conference-Watchung Division schedule at 4-1. The Raiders currently sit in second place, a game and a half behind Cranford and one and a half above Westfield, while Union is still in search of its first divisional win.
After the Raiders jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead at halftime on goals from Lyght and Klurman, Union cut that deficit in half just two minutes out of the intermission on a point-blank header from Brun off a corner kick. And for the next 17 minutes, there was some suspense around Union’s Volunteer Park, as a physical match between both sides was within a point.
But one goal would be as close as the Farmers would get, however. The Raiders kicked it into a higher gear in the 61st minute and responded with three goals in the final 20 minutes to separate themselves.
Lyght got around the keeper outside the box and finished in front of an empty net with 20:20 minutes of play remaining, and then the floodgates opened for Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Schoss scored less than eight minutes later and Ley soon put the icing on the cake to make it 5-1 before Union would respond on a late score from Levy in the final minutes.
Securing a 4-1 record in Union County games Tuesday should set the Raiders up for a solid seed in the imminent UCT seedings meeting. Cranford (7-1, 6-0 in conference play) -- the only team to defeat Scotch Plains-Fanwood -- is almost certainly a lock for the top seed, but the Raiders should find themselves at No. 2.
Union, on the other hand, may not get the highest seed, but with the experience it has coming off two consecutive appearances in the semifinals, should be considered the most dangerous darkhorse of the tournament.