FRANKLINVILLE – After it was over, there were tears and expressions of emotions from players representing both teams.
For the girls on the Cherry Hill West soccer team, those tears were indications of joy and relief. For those on the Delsea team, it was not so much.
West used a second-half goal by senior Gabrielle Angelucci and the clean goal keeping of freshman Michaela Auguadro to secure a 1-0 upset over the No. 3 seeded Crusaders Monday in a South Jersey Group 3 semifinal game.
A No. 10 seed going into the competition, West remained alive to play for a a sectional championship at No. 1 seed Ocean City on Thursday.
“This is so awesome,” said Angelucci. “We’ve been working hard all season for the this . . . We really earned this. A lot of people thought we couldn’t do it, but we really earned this.
“It was pretty tough, but I think being the underdog and being on the road so much pushed us to do even better. It gave us even more motivation to do our best and just put it all out there.”
Cherry West coach Katina Anthony agreed that playing as an underdog served as motivation for her team.
“I don’t think we’ve ever gone this far in the history of our program and the girls just wanted it,” she said. “They just worked, worked, worked. We talked about we’re the underdog – all the pressure is on them - -and we’ve got nothing to lose. So let’s just play.”
Angelucci’s goal broke a scoreless tie with 19:04 remaining in the game. It came on an assist from Abbigale D’Ambra, another freshman who has contributed to West’s success.
To hear Angelucci describe the play, you’d think the goal came more by luck than by skill.
“I just saw the loose ball and I just stuck my foot out and hoped it would go in,” she said. “(D’Ambra) put in a beautifully placed ball and I was able to get on it.”
However, the only thing that really mattered was that the ball found the net.
“It was so exhilarating,” Angelucci said. “I personally played against Delsea two times before in the playoffs and to capitalize in this game was really special to me.”
That it was Angelucci who delivered the goal came as not a surprise to her coach.
“She’s a four-year varsity player for us and she’s just clutch,” Anthony said. “She’s just composed and she’s a leader for us on and off the field. She’s a workhorse for us.”
Once Cherry West took the lead, Delsea did not give up on the game easily.
Virtually all of the final 15 minutes were played in the Cherry West defensive zone where it was left to Auguadro to try to keep her opponents off the board.
Anthony was confident the young goalie would stand tall.
“She is phenomenal,” the coach said. “She keeps us in games. Earlier she had a 1-1 tie against Washington Township and she’s really the reason that we’ve been on this run throughout the post season.”
For her part, Auguadro referred to the victory as a team effort.
“We all believed we could do it,” she said. “Every game we come in, we come in knowing that if we can give all our effort we can win every game, and I think that really shows up on the field.”
On the other side, the loss brought to an end of the most successful seasons in Delsea girls soccer history. The Crusaders finished with only two losses, the other coming to No. 1 Eastern.
Coach Misty Russo said the girls came up a little short when it mattered most.
“At the end of the day there’s a lot to be proud of,” she said. “(But) I just don’t think that we played real well. It’s hard. We didn’t play well enough to win, obviously. So we just have to learn from it.”
S.J. Group 3 Semifinal
Cherry West 0 1-1
Delsea 0 0-0
Goal: Gabrielle Angelucci, Goalies: Michela Auguadro, CW. (5 saves), Allison Gebhart, D (4 saves)