SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Senior Jennifer Grasso broke a scoreless tie with only 3:15 left on the clock to propel the South Plainfield High School Lady Tigers field hockey team into the GMC Tournament Final with a dramatic 1-0 win over Old Bridge Tuesday evening at the PAL.
South Plainfield will meet familiar foe Metuchen in the final on Thursday night.
The victory served as a form of revenge for South Plainfield, who endured a 2-1 road loss to the Lady Knights back on October 10th, blowing a first half lead before being defeated in overtime.
“I think the girls did awesome,” said Head Coach Melissa Zurawiecki. “We knew coming in that it was going to be pressure packed, very intense, very emotional. It was a rematch of what the [GMCT] finals looked like last year, and we just came off a loss to them a week ago in overtime. So we were really just looking to play for the full 60 minutes and play as one unit and I think we really did that. And they really just played until every last whistle, and that’s what we were hoping for and asking for.”
Grasso unleashed a howitzer from in front to put her team up for good nearly 57 minutes in.
“Jen did awesome. She was exactly where we needed her to be,” Zurawiecki said. “We focused a lot in practice yesterday on finishing the ball and not having to get those extra touches and she did it exactly how we practiced it yesterday. So it was perfect.”
South Plainfield was able to withstand heavy pressure from Old Bridge at times both early and late in the contest. Goalkeeper Tatianna Sutor came up big with two pad stops approximately six minutes into the second half.
“[Sutor] did a great job. My defense has been really solid all season. We had a defensive save really early in that first half by Erica Cieszkiewicz, and without that, the game looks completely different,” Zurawiecki said.
“And it’s mostly a senior-influenced backfield, so they have a lot of experience back there, they know what this GMC tournament feels like and looks like, and how hard they have to work. And they did that today.”
The Lady Tigers and Bulldogs need no formal introductions.
“We’re excited [to face Metuchen again]. Every time we play them it’s always a great game. A lot of these girls do camps with them over the summer, so it’s really always a nice game between the two of us. So it’s going to be just as intense, just as pressure packed as today was, but we’re looking forward to being ready to go for Thursday,” Zurawiecki said.