Johnson Girls Soccer Advances To State Sectional Finals
A tense 1-0 victory over Rumson earns Lady Crusaders' first trip to sectional finals in six years.
The Records: The Johnson Lady Crusaders (12-6-1) took on the Rumson Bulldogs (12-7-1) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at home.
The Final Score: Six years have gone by since the Johnson girls' soccer team has earned a spot in the sectional finals, but only one week has passed since their friend and teammate Eryka Underwood was seriously burned in a bonfire accident. It was obvious from Underwood's #19 worn on the girls' socks, shinguards and hands, that the Lady Crusaders were playing inspired soccer.
The first half went back and forth with both teams playing strong defense and struggling to get a good shot on goal. The game remained scoreless going into halftime. Halfway into the second half pressure was mounting on both teams to put the ball in the net. The Crusaders did just that: Senior Kelly Loalbo scored when the Rumson goalie couldn't gain control of the ball right in front of the goal. Loablo aggressively knocked the ball away from the goalie. Then, as it was rolling precariously towards the net, she made sure there was no doubt and kicked it in. Johnson held Rumson for the rest of the game for a 1-0 victory.
Key Stat: Crusader goalie Jamie Cheeka had three saves in the game and recorded a shutout for the win.
The Hero: Kelly Loablo scored the game's only goal, securing a Crusader victory. "During the game I would look down at my hand and see Eryka's #19," said Loablo, "and that gave me the inspiration to put the ball in the goal."
The Quote: "The whole game was very intense and very physical," said Johnson head coach Javier Velasco. "We just needed to score and put them away. When this team comes to play, they can play with anyone."
What's Next: Johnson will face local rival Governor Livingston in the sectional finals on at 2 p.m. Friday at home.