HADDONFIELD – Eastern head coach Jamie McGroarty gave his girls soccer team one final message before the Vikings left the football field at Paul VI High School on Wednesday night.
“This was a good tough game,” McGroarty said. “There were times we outplayed (Cinnaminson) and there we’re times they outplayed us. This was a good even game and the type of game this tournament deserves and expects. You should be proud of how you played tonight.”
Eastern, ranked No.1 in the SJSD Top 10 remained undefeated by virtue of a 4-2 penalty kick shootout over No. 2 Cinnaminson after 100 scoreless minutes in the second of two semifinal games Wednesday in the SJSCA Coaches Tournament. In the first game, No. 4 Haddonfield needed a goal by Ellie Kriebel from 21 yards to beat No. 3 Washington Township 1-0. The winners will meet Saturday evening at 5 p.m. in the championship game at Rowan University in a game that is expected to mirror the two hard fought battles on Wednesday night.
“This is a huge win for us,” said Haddonfield senior back Liz Mulvenna, who drew Township freshman striker Amanda Attanasi to mark. “Last year we won South Jersey in Group 2 against Cinnaminson, but we didn’t reach the final in this tournament. You start each year with a goal and this was one of them.
“That’s a really good team. (Attanasi) is a really tough player, she’s so quick and controls the ball so well. We just had to work together on defense and stretch it out over the back line.”
Haddonfield had the better opportunities in the first half, but needed Kriebel’s shot from distance 8:14 into the second half to take the lead. From there, Haddonfield played smart, physical defense and countered when they could, but kept the Minutemaids from more than a few chances inside the 18-yard line over the remaining part of the game.
“It just rolled out,” Kriebel said. “I actually thought their keeper saved it. After that everyone got amped up and we didn’t have any let ups from that point.”
Eastern meanwhile never had a lead as the second game went 100 scoreless minutes. A brisk wind steadily increased throughout the nightcap, but much like the opener, true scoring chances were at best limited and more often than not unavailable.
In penalty kick, Eastern keeper Mikayla Ronczak turned two attempts away and the Vikings went a perfect 4-for-4 to lock up the win and improve to a perfect 20-0 on the year.
“It’s not a team I’m familiar with,” Ronczak said. “In a shootout like this, you just try to read where they are trying to shoot. I was fortunate enough to guess right twice.
“We’ve always approached each game separately and this is no different. We’re in the final now and that’s what we are focused on and we believe we are ready to play.”
Bulldawgs 1, Minutemaids 0
Wash Twp. 0--0---0
Ellie Kriebel. Saves: Maya Olimpio, H, 5; Jordynn Stallard, W, 3.
Vikings 0, Pirates 0 (4-2 PKs)
Saves: Maddie Ogden, C, 8; Mikayla Ronczak, E, 6.