PENNS GROVE-- Nya Salmon was waiting on the left side of the penalty area as the ball reached the right wing.
Seconds later, Salmon received the final pass in a string of four passes for Schalick’s third goal in its 4-2 win over Penns Grove in Tri-County Diamond action on Monday.
The connectivity of the Cougars has been one of the main reasons they’ve gotten out to an 11-1 start, with a 7-0 division record.
“Our teamwork. Our communication. Our chemistry as a team,” Salmon said. “We all appreciate each other and work together. It’s not like one person dominates everything, which is what helps in the game, because we have the mindset that everyone should share the ball and not one person gets it, which then leads to us winning by large margins.”
Monday’s victory was the second of the season over Penns Grove, and halftime adjustments were key after going into the half tied at one goal apiece.
“I definitely think that we came out expecting to beat them easily because last time we did that,” midfielder Lauren Bone said. “I think they came out a lot harder because they’ve been winning games and gaining confidence. We just need to come out with the same power every time.”
Bone scored the second goal, which was the eventual game-winning strike, right after halftime on a shot from distance.
“In practice, a lot of our shots are from the 18 just because our midfielders are open a lot,” Bone said. “It just works out.”
The Cougars feel more as one this season because of their passing moving into the final third.
On numerous occasions on Monday, the Cougars strung together up to 10 passes in midfield while racing forward into the box to challenge Penns Grove.
“As our freshmen came in, they really know how to play the game of soccer,” Bone said. “Obviously a lot of passing and getting to the open spot and I think that’s something we missed last year. This year, we’re all on the same page.”
It’s a strategy Salmon, who is the top scorer on the Schalick roster, prefers.
“I don’t like taking the ball up myself,” Salmon said. “I’d rather receive it and shoot it. When we work together, we know where to go because we’re just connected. As a team, we can just connect our passes, find an open person and they can shoot instead of one person taking it up all the way. “
While they’re on a roll in the division right now, the Cougars know there are tougher tests ahead to prepare them for the postseason.
“We’re playing two difficult teams, Deptford and Highland, that we’re preparing for because they’re going to be the ultimate tests to see if we’re ready for playoffs and we just need to give everything we have to focus on winning in playoffs,” Bone said.
For now, the Cougars feel excited about their prospects as October begins with a division title right in their sights.
“It’s exciting to see what will come,” Salmon said.