GLASSBORO – For one brief moment, junior Milana D’Ambra thought she hit the perfect ball.
“I really thought it was in,” D’Ambra said. “I saw the keeper tip it and I thought maybe she tipped it in the goal but it just went high. It was just so close.”
Freehold Township got a pair of goals from Jada Colbert in a wild affair as the Patriots beat Washington Township 5-3 in a Group 4 state semifinal game at Rowan University on Tuesday night. Freehold (23-1) built a three goal lead early in the second half before Township (18-4-3) rallied to pull within one, but the Minutemaids couldn’t find that one goal to tie the game up on this night.
“That just wouldn’t be the character of this team,” Township head coach Bill Alvaro said. “We’ve come through so many obstacles this year. There was no way this team was ever going to lay down and quit.”
“We never thought we were out of it,” D’Ambra said. “We’ve scored three goals in five minutes this year. We knew we could do it again and I think we never believed we weren’t going to tie the game up.”
Down 4-1, Township faced a huge uphill battle with 22 minutes left but its resilience came through in one of its youngest players as freshman Amanda Attanasi scored her second goal of the night with 21:21 left to pull the Maids within 4-2.
Just over a minute later, Attanasi again found her way into the Freehold penalty area and after she got taken down, Breana Winder hit a penalty kick to make the score 4-3.
“It’s an amazing thing to be a part of,” Winder said. “The energy and the ability to lift each other up even though we were down by three goals says what a special thing we have as a team. We certainly could have put our heads down but we didn’t. We continued to play as a team and we had a chance.
With 15 minutes left, D’Ambra set up for a restart from close to 40 yards. The juniors’ ball sailed high on net and if not for Freehold keeper Alessia LaRosa's extended right hand the game would have been tied 4-4.
“It looked like it was in,” Alvaro said. “We were pressing at that point and I really thought we would get that goal.”
The ensuing corner kick came in low and Freehold used it to set up a counter attack and with the Minutemaids deep in the offensive end, the Patriots had enough space and time for Jasmine Colbert to put home the fifth goal of the night with 13:10 left to play to secure a win.
“We were doing what we needed to do and they hit us with a counter,” Alvaro said, “We were down and had to score. We couldn’t stay back and protect a lead or a tie.
“We had a great mix this year. Yeah, we have a lot back next year but this was a special senior class. Without that group we wouldn’t be here today.”
Patriots 5, Minutemaids 3
Freehold Twp. 1--4--5
Wash Twp. 1--2--3
Goals: Jada Colbert 2, Jasmine Colbert, Paige Farrell, Laura Noseworthy, FT; Amanda Attanasi 2, Breana Winder. Saves: Alessia LaRosa, FT, 6; Jordynn Stallard, WT, 5.