SCOTCH PLAINS — It took the Raiders just three minutes to separate themselves from a Westfield rival the Scotch Plains team hadn't beaten in four years.
Corinne Lyght scored on a header off a corner kick three minutes into the game then scored on a breakaway in the 48th minute to lift Scotch Plains-Fanwood over Westfield 2-0 on Saturday.
Lizzie Ley and Faith Price distributed the assists for the (4-0) Raiders, while goalkeeper Maya Kessler needed only three saves to shut out a Westfield team that scored six goals on the Raiders last year.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood last beat Westfield on Oct. 31, 2015, had dropped three decisions — including a state tournament game — and drew the county final with the Blue Devils last year.
“It’s absolutely tough,” said Westfield head coach Alex Schmidt of losing to Scotch Plains. “We have a young team, and they’re learning what this rivalry game is at the varsity level, and what it takes to be mentally prepared.”
Westfield stayed even with its neighboring rival for all of three minutes Saturday. While making a run deep into Westfield’s defensive zone in the third minute, Scotch Plains-Fanwood drew a corner kick and made the most of it.
Lizzie Ley took the kick and sent a good ball between the six-box and penalty kick line. Breaking free from the crowd, Lyght separated herself and elevated above the pile. The sophomore met the ball with her head and sent it past Westfield goalkeeper Caitlin Amman to the back of the net.
The Raiders had a lead early into the game and wouldn’t let up the rest of the match.
“Scotch Plains is always deadly on corners,” Schmidt said. “We know Corinne, and we know her height, and we just didn’t mark her well.”
That goal was all Scotch Plains-Fanwood needed to stay ahead.
The Raiders’ back line featured combinations of Gabby Aloe, Maggie Traina, Leah Klurman, and Ashleigh and Rebecca Lancaster, and allowed Westfield to get off just three shots on goal, all of which Kessler saved.
Westfield’s back line of Faith Dobosiewicz, Elise Fox and Izzy Gauthier limited Scotch Plains to just seven shots while keeper Caitlin Amman made three saves. But the defense suffered a miscommunication in the 48th minute, and it sealed the deal for the Raiders.
Faith Price gained possession of the ball at midfield and shifted a line of Westfield defenders before sending a through-ball up the field from the left flank. Lyght caught it in stride, beat a charging Amman outside of the 18-box and buried an uncontested shot into the empty net, giving the Raiders a 2-0 lead that would hold for the duration.
“Wide open goal, and it was a good goal for them,” Schmidt said. “But in terms of us, being so young and having injuries all at the same time has made it hard to start the season this way."
Westfield didn't have many chances to score but did threaten a couple of times.
With 1 second remaining in the first half, Dobosiewicz nearly scored on a direct free kick from 40 out, but her shot sailed just up and around the upper right corner.
Fourteen minutes later, the Blue Devils made a dangerous run downfield when Catherine Miller broke free and sent a cross from the left side, but it was scooped up by Kessler.
Both teams are expected to contend for Group 4 and Union County Tournament titles this year. And while Westfield has stumbled a bit out of the gate, having lost to Scotch Plains and Cranford, it will get some of its key pieces back from injury soon and should figure to be right back in the thick of things.
"Looking down the line, all these girls are coming back within two to three weeks," Schmidt said. "We have a starting back, two girls in the middle and one up top. To replace those with freshmen and sophomores is not fair to anybody.”