MOUNT HOLLY--- Seven of Eastern’s 10 goals in the Tournament of Champions semifinal came from freshmen.
Ryleigh Heck scored the first four goals of the contest and Riley Hudson followed up with three of her own in the 10-0 win over West Essex on Wednesday night at Rancocas Valley.
“It’s great. We’ve got youth out there doing some spectacular stuff for us,” Eastern head coach Danyle Heilig said. “It’s exciting for the kids. It’s exciting for the program.”
As the season progressed, Heck and Hudson have jelled more within the Eastern attack, and it’s paid off, especially for Heck, who has 10 goals in the last two games.
“As a freshman, I was a little more nervous in the beginning of the season,” Heck said. “As the season went along, I got more comfortable with my teammates and I think they supported me throughout the games.”
“I feel like we started to click and were jelling at that time,” Hudson said. “It’s really fun to be a part of this team and play with everyone.”
Heck’s older sister Kara scored one of the other three Eastern goals, and it’s the vision of the sisters that helps Eastern drive forward so swiftly.
“I think both Ryleigh and Kara play with a sick determination,: Heilig said. “They have such great ability to read defenders. It’s one of those things you can teach it to certain kids all you want and they’ll never get it and they just get it.”
“They read defenders like a running back does. When a defender leans, the running back is going the other way and that’s the way they both are. Ryleigh is finishing well right now. I think it’s a credit to the kids behind her, her backs and her mids, who are just doing a great job getting the ball up there effectively.”
Wednesday’s win set up a Tournament of Champions rematch with Oak Knoll, which beat Moorestown 1-0 in the other semifinal.
“Going into Friday night, it’s just about focusing on us,” Heilig said. “Our whole mantra this year has been reload, redefine, finish. And finishing to us is winning on Friday night.”