Lions shock Mustangs to win sectional crown

first_img BY WAYNE WITKOWSKIStaff Writer Above, Middletown North’s Jennifer Anzivino steps in front of Brick Memorial’s Sarah Conway during the Lions’ win over the Mustangs on Thursday in Brick. At left, North goalie Lindsey Carlson holds onto the ball under pressure from Memorial’s Amanda Simon. For 20 minutes, Brick Memorial’s girls soccer team Bill Caruso waited for something to happen — magic, luck or some big play that would turn the NJSIAA Group IV Central Jersey championship game around like so many times in the past. It didn’t happen this time. With Jen Anzivino hitting a breakaway goal in the 59th minute, Middletown North avenged a 3-1 loss to the Mustangs in the Shore Conference championship game and held on to a 2-1 victory Thursday to advance to the state semifinals. The win ended a three-year reign as the Group IV champs for Brick Memorial, and gave the Lions all the confidence they could ask for as they chase down an overall state crown. “We played as well as we could play,” said Memorial head coach Bill Caruso after his nationally ranked team suffered its only loss in 20 games. Middletown North improved to 15-1-2. “We out-shot them, 20-4, and they were lucky and we weren’t. Sometimes the ball does not bounce your way. We had a ton of luck over three years, and our luck ran out. PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff “We were just missing and just wide, and sometimes that’s the way soccer is,” said Caruso. Even when Sarah Alves scored 8:36 into the game when she hit a corner kick and got it returned for a blast in close and a goal, the Mustangs were confident that they would could come back from the 1-0 half-time deficit. But when Anzivino struck for her goal and a 2-0 lead, Brick Memorial faced a staggering uphill battle, and the Lions were on the verge of pulling off the upset and putting an exclamation point on what had already been a tremendous season. Jess Fuccello cut the lead down when she got her 25th goal this season at 75:53 on a blast from 20 yards out for her 99th career goal, third on the school’s all-time list. The shot beat North goalie Lindsey Carlson, who had played brilliantly in the nets. But it was too little too late for the Mustangs, and the Lions were on to the Group IV semifinals on Tuesday, where they were to meet South Jersey Group IV champion Eastern, a 1-0 winner over Toms River East in their sectional final. With the Rutgers-bound Anzivino leading the way with her 27 goals this year, the Lions have proven to be among the state’s very best teams. But lost in the Lions’ offensive prowess has been the play of the North defense, led by Carlson, sweeper Julie Lancos and Danille Devinsky, who was in charge of marking Fuccello in Thursday’s final, and did so brilliantly. That defense proved to be the difference against Memorial, as the Lions were able to contain the Mustangs’ potent offensive attack, and could be the key as the Lions looked to add another piece of hardware to their collection this weekend. BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer Middletown North girls knock off three-time defending champs last_img

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