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Lady Hilltoppers Make Comeback in Second Half En Route to 3-2 Overtime Win Over AL Johnson

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Madeline Gramigna brings the ball downfield for Summit in the first half. Credits: Daniel Eckert
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SUMMIT, NJ – Anna Johnson scored the game winning goal for the Summit Lady Hilltoppers 3:35 into the first overtime period as the team came back from two goals down in the second half to defeat AL Johnson High School 3-2 at Upper Tatlock Field.
The Summit offense was racing downfield when a ball went off of Johnson’s Gianna Rebario out of bounds to force a corner kick.  Brittany Toffey took the kick from the left side and sent the ball into the AL Johnson box.  It bounced around a bit before Johnson got a foot on it, among several players from both teams, and lofted a shot into the back of the cage.
 
“We came out really pumped up. It started off from a corner. (The ball) was...bouncing around. I wasn’t even looking where I was shooting. I just hit it as hard as I could and it went in,” Johnson said of her game winning overtime score.
 

Summit’s win in their second to last game of the regular season did not come easy at all as they had to fight back after being down two goals early in the second half.
 
Madeline Gramigna got things started when she was taken down in the AL Johnson box by defenseman Eryca Underwood.  She was awarded a penalty kick and put a shot inside the right post past goaltender Jamie Cheeka to make the score 2-1.
 
Under four minutes later, Summit was able to tie the game off some nice transition play.  Kate Martino sent a ball up field for teammate Kelly Osmulski.  She got behind the defense and fired a shot off of Cheeka who came out of her goal in an attempt to make a play on the ball.  The ball deflected back to Osmulski who kicked it into the open net at the 27:30 mark of the second half.
 
“I think that we focused more in the second half.  We were a little bit all over the place in the first half,” Summit Head Coach Michael Poller said.  “It’s about having pride in each other.  I felt like the girls heard the message and did a nice job in the second half,” he continued about his team’s comeback.
 
The start of the game did not play out the way Summit had envisioned.  Despite having much of the possession and controlling the tempo of the game, they could not find a way to put the ball into the net.
 
AL Johnson made the most of their best opportunity with 12:26 remaining until halftime when they scored the first goal of the contest.  Off a corner kick, Michaela Oliveira fired a hard shot into the top right corner of the goal past the outstretched reach of goaltender Jackie Zalis.
At the beginning of the second half AL Johnson would take a two goal lead when Amanda Rusin scored, but from there on out Summit played a solid game to get their comeback started.
 
“At halftime our coach told us we really had to pick it up.  Our captains really motivated us and we all just picked it up.  After the first goal we all just pushed ourselves and… we just tried really hard,” Johnson said.
 
After the score was tied a two apiece, Gramigna hit the cross bar off a hard shot after a corner kick.  Stuart Humphrey appeared to have scored the game winning goal late in the second half, but right before she kicked the ball in from about five yards from in front of the net, the referee ruled the play offside.
 
Another controversial call came when Humphrey kicked in a ball just as Cheeka was grabbing it out of the air.  The referee ruled that Cheeka had control of it and that Humphrey kicked it out of her hands.
 
“We scored four goals in the second half.  We had two taken away.  So, in theory, we scored five goals today” Coach Poller said with a smile after the game.
 
Summit is now 9-5-3 and concludes its regular season at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School this Friday at 4 p.m.  They will then play host to Ewing High School in the first round of the NJSIAA Girls Soccer Tournament on Monday, Oct. 31 at Summit High School at a time to be announced.  

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