(Central Jersey) - The Real Central NJ Soccer (RCNJ) WPSL women’s team brought its A-game against PA Classics, securing a 3-0 win at its home opener on Sunday, June 12th. Spirits were high as the women played their hearts out after not playing many matches so far this season due to weather-related cancellations. “It’s always great to be home. We had four away games scheduled in two weeks but two of them got canceled. It was nice to get back here,” head coach Brian Thomsen commented.
Right from the start of the match, the play was pretty even for both teams as they tried to suss out each others’ weaknesses and find the right moments to go in on goal. Both RCNJ and PAC started with strong defensive lines which created minimal opportunities for either team to successfully carry out any plays or take solid shots on goal. RCNJ displayed strong communication and clean passes to one another allowing them to advance the ball up the field into PA territory pretty often during the first 20 minutes.
Substitute Brooke Steel scored RCNJ’s first goal of the match in the 25th minute with an assist from “Player of the Match,” Emmi Denovellis. In a struggle for possession, Steel took a touch from Denovellis and quickly shot the ball past PA Classics goalkeeper, Mia Reed. The rest of the first period consisted of switching ball possession and attacks on goal from both teams, especially the Classics.
RCNJ goalkeeper Jamie Skarupsky did not have much to worry about with center-back Riley Kennett helping her on the back line, sweeping away many attacks. The first period ended with RCNJ up by one, and the Classics determined to get on the scoreboard.
“We talked about being clean - we were a bit sloppy in the first half - and getting behind which we did to get crosses in and succeed in the final third,” Kennett said referring to RCNJ’s halftime talk with the coaches.
The second period brought more success for Real Central NJ soon after the whistle with a remarkable goal from midfielder Ava Curtis. A corner kick for RCNJ had everyone on their toes preparing to win a cross from Curtis’ powerful right foot from the right side. Reed had looked for an outswinging ball toward the penalty box, but the ball hooked right, hit the inside of the far post, and gave Real Central NJ its second goal of the match in the 48th minute.
As the second period progressed, the stakes were high for PA Classics who struggled for successful combination plays and opportunities to score. Hopes were raised for Classics in the 54th minute when Kaitlyn Laird finally had a breakaway and quickly made her way down RCNJ’s side of the field, only to be hindered by strong recovery runs by Kennett and Alexandra Searing.
Real Central’s Kaitlyn Sullivan played last night’s match with a lot of energy and fast thinking on her feet. If she wasn’t going in for a shot herself, Sullivan was creating opportunities for her teammates to go to goal with plenty of crosses from the left-wing. RCNJ secured the third and final goal of the match in the 70th minute with a beautiful left-footed cross from Sullivan which was immediately approached with a strong header from forward, Makenzie Rodrigues, straight into the net.
Facing the final minutes of the match, PA Classics’ attacks seemed to become more frequent and aggressive but proved to be too little too late with additional missed opportunities and RCNJ’s defense beating them to the punch each time. The match concluded in the 92nd minute with a 3-0 clean sheet for Real Central NJ.
“It was definitely a good home opener. We came out strong and everyone knew what they needed to do. We got our first clean sheet of the season so that was pretty good, I’m really happy with the performance,” goalkeeper Jamie Skarupsky commented after the match.
The Real Central NJ Soccer WPSL women’s team will be playing at home on Saturday, June 18th at 6 pm against Lehigh Valley Tempest in their second face-off of the season. The RCNJ men will return home on Friday, June 17th in their third and final matchup against Philadelphia Lone Star after playing away at Lehigh Valley United Wednesday night.