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(Central Jersey) - The Real Central NJ Soccer (RCNJ) WPSL women’s team played an outstanding game at home, earning a 6-1 victory against Hershey FC on Thursday, June 30th. Players struggled to keep cool through the high temperatures at last night’s game but nonetheless, both teams put their all into the match and played through the heat. RCNJ stands in third place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference and came into last night’s match with seven goals scored and only allowed in three so far this season.

Real Central NJ and Hershey FC played with an equal amount of aggression and determination coming out of the gate. Ball possession and strategized plays were 50/50 at the beginning of the match. As the period progressed and RCNJ felt out Hershey’s playing style more, the attacking unit started creating scoring opportunities, with two shots finding the crossbar..

In the 38th minute, RCNJ’s “Player of the Match,” Kelli Collins flew past Hershey defenders straight through the net after a few touches from her fellow teammates and Hershey players inside the 18. Collins played a phenomenal game last night with quick thinking and a great hustle to the ball. Just six minutes later, Collins displayed a great reaction time when the ball started to bounce out of the box and sent it right back in over goalkeeper Grace Hoffman’s head in the 34th minute.

Collins went from a seamless assist in the last home match to scoring RCNJ’s first two goals on her way to a hat-trick in this one. “We have a lot of girls on the team so it’s not always the same group of girls playing together. We’ve been playing together for the past few games and I think tonight it was very clear that we’ve built a lot of chemistry,” Collins commented.

Photo credit: Ben Rowe

RCNJ’s backline of Sydney Watson, Alexandra Searing, Stella Kahn, and Jordan Mahony performed exceptionally when it came to protecting goalkeeper Jamie Skarupsy and sweeping the ball out of any dangerous areas in the box. The first period ended with a clean sheet for RCNJ, the score 2-0.

Coming into the second period RCNJ’s lineup was hungry for more goals and searched for opportunities up the field. In the 54th minute, Makenzie Rodrigues put her speed to the test in a race against two Hershey defenders to the box and shot to Hoffman’s left, giving RCNJ its third goal. Just minutes later Rodrigues stood unguarded in the box, lying in wait for the ball to come from one of her teammates. Rodrigues, wide open and watching a battle for the ball from Sophia Lis, received a quick tap from Lis in the middle and with one touch she sent the ball past Hoffman in the 59th minute. With about 30 minutes left in the second period, Collins and Rodrigues stood as possible contenders for securing a hat-trick before the match’s end.

Hershey FC continued to try for a goal for the duration of the match but with only two substitutes, they had to do so without the luxury of fresh legs and water breaks. Even with the constant advances to Hershey’s goal, the defenders worked tirelessly and did not make it easy for RCNJ. Goalkeeper Grace Hoffman put in her best effort and did not give up trying to save each shot taken at her.

In the 64th minute, Lis earned her first goal of the game and for the club, when she received a pass from her teammate Alexa Swetz and attempted to advance it to goal. Hoffman dropped to the ground in an attempted save, but in a split second the ball was freed from her grip and Lis quickly took the opportunity to chip it to the net. This advanced Real Central NJ’s score to 5-0.

With perseverance, Hershey FC’s offensive line came in hot and determined to take away RCNJ’s clean sheet before the end of the second period. With just eight minutes left in the match, Hershey attackers found the opportunity to settle the ball in RCNJ’s territory, dangerously close to goal, and launched the ball past second-period RCNJ goalkeeper Rachel Quigly in the 82nd minute. While it was unlikely for Hershey FC to get the leg up on RCNJ in the remaining minutes of the match, it was still satisfying for the team to finally score. With four minutes left on the clock, Hershey FC continued to try for another goal with determination but was no match for the hustle from RCNJ’s defensive line.

In the last couple of minutes, Real Central NJ sought to finish the game strong. Sophia Lis, hungry for a last goal for RCNJ, approached Hoffman for a one-on-one face-off and shot right off the quick assist from Rosie Bostian. The whistle blew not long after the final goal, totaling the match’s score at 6-1 RCNJ, finalizing the team’s amazing victory in the 90th minute. Last night’s match had the most goals scored in club history compared to the Real Central NJ USL2 men’s team who originally broke the record with five goals against Philadelphia Lone Star in its opening match of the 2022 season.

Proud head coach, Brian Thomsen, commented on the win and what it could mean for RCNJ’s remaining few matches. “We’re going up to Torch next Wednesday and then we come back home next Friday to play against Lehigh. That’ll be a good game because we played them our first game of the year and they were pretty good.”

The Real Central NJ WPSL women’s team will return home on Friday, July 8th for its final match of the 2022 season against Lehigh Valley Tempest.



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