MOORESTOWN-- Wayden Ay’s start could only be described in one word.
“Unreal,” Haddonfield head coach Jessica Blake said.
Ay scored four of the first five goals in Haddonfield’s 8-7 upset of Rumson Fair Haven in the Group 2 semifinals on Wednesday at Moorestown High School.
“Wayden can shoot,” Blake said. “She’s a defender, but we play her at midfield. We know she can shoot like that and she often holds back. This is what we’ve been waiting for . She can shoot the lights out.”
“Our mindset was just to come in hard and play every ball with intensity and know every moment of the game we’re going to have to work as hard as we can,” Ay said. “We got the five goals and we set the tone of the game right there.”
The Bulldawgs knew the start to the game was going to make a massive difference, especially after a blowout loss to Rumson a year ago.
“We told them the first five minutes is going to make the difference,” Blake said. “We needed to come out strong. We lost to them big last year. We were young and had a lot of freshmen last year who are sophomores this year.
“We just said you have to come out strong and set the tone and we deserve to be here,” Blake said. “They’re good. They deserve to be here. They just needed to know that.”
Ay was the catalyst of the attack which she was almost forced into after an injury to senior Katie Pileggi, who scored once before leaving the field.
“I just came in with confidence and I knew I wanted to put the ball in the back of the net and help my team in any way I can,” Ay said. “We wanted to take every opportunity we were given.
“It was a great feeling and you get a lot of confidence from it,” Ay said. “And you start to get more and more. That’s how our offense goes. Once we get two or three in the goal, we just get in a rhythm.”
However, the fast start didn’t put Haddonfield in the clear for good. The Bulldawgs fended off a late fight from Rumson, who scored the last two tallies of the game.
“It was so nerve wracking because you’re shaking in your body and everyone else is telling each other to stay calm and play our game,” Ay said “That;s the only way you can win, stay composed.”
All the Bulldawgs have to do on Saturday in the Group 2 championship is play within their game, a task they are more than capable of doing.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Blake said. “The girls are very skilled and smart and they work hard. I told them the success is when they do what they do. They don’t have to do anything different. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Eastern 11, Rancocas Valley 5
The Vikings advanced to the Group 4 championship with a runaway win over a tough RV team that won the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional title.
Kaela Sierra found the back of the net on four occasions for the Vikings, while Kara Heck and Tori Accardo struck twice for the victorious side.