HADDON TWP.--- Hannah Cooksey’s clever run in between defenders to connect with Kaitlyn Samuels was impressive, and it turned out to be a meaningful play as well.
Cooksey’s second goal, which came with 3:23 left in the first half, turned out to be the difference-maker in Pennsville’s 2-1 win over Haddon Township in the South Jersey Group 1 girls soccer semifinals on Friday.
“I saw (the run) on a few balls and I knew that I was driving end line too,” Cooksey said. “I just saw the opportunity to head it in and it was right there.”
The second Pennsville goal capped a stellar first half for the Eagles' senior, who opened the scoring by getting a touch on Arianna Smith’s free kick.
“I was just looking to put the ball away early because in the last playoff game I struggled with that,” Cooksey said. “It happened right away and I kept getting shots off. I knew it was going to come sooner or later.”
Smith and the Pennsville defense starred throughout the 80 minutes, as they stopped the majority of the chances created by the host Hawks.
“Defense is one of the main parts of the game,” Cooksey said. “Even though I do my job on offense, they have a big part of it too. It was a great team win.”
Goalie April Hartman also turned in a massive showing for the Eagles, with her biggest denial coming at the start of the second half on a penalty kick.
“Honestly as a goalie, you just have to go with your gut instinct and hope for the best. I got lucky this time,” Hartman said.
Hartman was in the right position on countless occasions, as the Hawks attempted to break Pennsville’s defensive wall.
“I think after playing there for four years, it’s something that comes without thinking about it,” Hartman said.
Haddon Township pulled back a late goal through Sydney Farnham to make the final five minutes nervous for Pennsville, but the sixth-seeded visitors held firm in the back to close out the victory.
“Our defense was huge,” Hartman said. “They are every game. They really came through this time and it makes it easier to play when I have a defense like that in front of me.”
The win set Pennsville up with a semifinal clash against No. 2 seed Schalick on Tuesday.
“Senior year, I don’t want to be done soon so we’re just going to keep pushing through,” Cooksey said.