MEDFORD-- Shawnee is ready for redemption.
The third-seeded Renegades took down No. 10 seed Kingsway 2-1 on Wednesday in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals to set up a championship showdown with top-seeded Eastern.
The Renegades and Vikings have met three times already this season, with the teams splitting results in Olympic Conference American Division play and Eastern winning the SJSCA tournament final.
“We’re ready for redemption,” Shawnee midfielder Tori Yost said.
“I’m so ready to play whoever we play,” Shawnee defender Haley Benson said. “We have the ability to beat either. Even though we lost in the Coaches Cup, we know what we’re capable of.”
Even though Kingsway evened the contest at the start of the second half, the Renegades didn’t feel too much pressure on the field.
Four minutes after the Dragons tied up the contest, Benson connected with a Lexy Endres corner kick for the game-winning goal.
“When they got the goal in, I wasn’t really upset or anything like that,” Benson said. “We were dominating the game and it was just one crappy ball that went in. I knew we were going to get the next goal in.”
Shawnee’s confidence is displayed in how it builds up play from the back, and the connection between each layer of the formation.
The calmness on the ball allows Shawnee to play within each part of the field and then surge forward when they’re ready to attack opponents.
“What the midfield does is they're not afraid to drop it back to the defenders so they’re not just pelting the ball up and taking shots that aren’t open,” Benson said. “They drop back, then we open up and we play it back to them until they’re open and then they take their opportunities.”
Even during the brief spell in which the game was tied, Shawnee looked composed and there was no feeling its season would end in an upset loss on home turf.
“We’re strong in the midfield and we know what we’re capable of,”: Yost said. “We knew what we needed to do to answer back and we weren’t going to let up now. We’ve worked too hard all season to give in now. We knew we could come back.”
Now it’s time for yet another meeting with Eastern, and for a Shawnee team that’s overcome plenty of injuries throughout the season, it isn’t ready for the ride to end.
“I’m not ready for my season to be over,” Benson said.