By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
The College of New Jersey‘s women’s field hockey team had a talented young star take center stage in the first round match up of their New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament against Rowan University, Wednesday night, with a 4-3 win at Lions Stadium.
The game was as exciting as a field hockey game could be. Both teams struggled to score, in a back and forth match that had fans and players alike on edge the entire night.
In the opening minutes, Rowan took the ball downfield and mounted a fierce continuous attack. Rowan took the ball straight to the line goal front and almost scored before the Lions had any time to get their defense set.
Once the Lions set, they manage to drive back downfield and get a shot off of their own, but it came up empty.
Rowan came back down the field in the eighth minute and forced the ball into Lion’s territory. The first shot taken was kicked out of danger by Lions goalkeeper Christina Fabiano. Lions midfielder Jillian Farley blocked another shot with a baseball-like swing of her stick.
After a heated exchange in front of the net, where Fabiano dove for the ball, just missing it. Rowan forward Rachel Galante smacked the ball into the lower-90 of the net. Rowan immediately burst into a passionate and emotional celebration as the Lions looked defeated on the play.
The Lions would fight hard in the first half, but they would go into halftime with a deficit of 2-1.
The College’s head coach Sharon Pfluger acknowledged that Rowan had the upper hand going into the half and that the Lions needed to regroup.
“We regrouped at halftime,” she said. ” I thought we were a little off and Rowan was really on. They went aggressively to the ball and had a great game.”
Freshman forward Tori Tienfenthaler scored the Lions sole goal in the first half. The talented freshman was the co-leader for goals scored during the season. She was a pleasant surprise for the Lions early on and she continued to aspire for greatness.
In the first half, in the 19th minute, Lions midfielder/defender Elizabeth “Libby” Morrison took the ball deep into Rowan territory. She deked through defenders and defiantly asserted herself into scoring position.
After drawing an aggressively contested corner, Morrison shot the ball hard. It deflected off of the Rowan goalkeeper’s leg. Another Lions player took a hack at the ball, again being denied by the goalkeeper, before Morrison passed the ball off to Tiefenthaler.
Tiefenthaler deked a defender and fired a shot that bounced cleanly over the goalie’s body. The shot couldn’t have looked any better.
In the second half, Tiefenthaler would score another goal late, which would prove to be the game winning goal. Tiefenthaler had taken a shot on goal early in the second half, but had been denied by the tough Rowan defense.
In the 65th minute of the game, junior midfielder/defender Sidney Padilla crushed a 20-yard pass to Tiefenthaler that drifted by all the Rowan defenders in the path of the ball. Tiefenthaler received the pass, made two defenders missed and bounce a shot right over the goalie’s leg. The shot impacted the post hit the back of the net.
The crowd erupted in to a long sustained cheer as the Lions emotionally celebrated on the field. The players on the sideline jumped up and down in sheer glee. Rowan’s team knew that this would be the finishing blow as they hung their heads low in defeat.
Tiefenthaler was modest about her clutch goal.
“It was all just a blur,” she said. “I just stuck my stick out there and tapped it in. It just goes to show you that good things happen when you get you stick on the ball.”
Pfluger had a lot of praise for her young hero.
“I think the goal meant everything for all of the players, no matter who shot it,” Pfluger said. “It was a great goal. Tori was solid for us all year, but that was a great goal. It was a gorgeous goal, but the team is simply happy to walk off the field with a win after fighting so hard.”
The game had the feeling of a championship game. The Lions battled with Rowan the entire game and Pfluger acknowledged that.
“It was a great game,” Pfluger said. “It was an overall outstanding team effort. This was a great game. It was a championship game, it really was. We had to bring our game up to another level and I think we did, that’s why we started scoring.”
The Lions will travel to Kean University’s home turf for the NJAC championship on Saturday, Nov. 4th for a 5:30 p.m. game. Kean is the number on seed in the NJAC tournament and beat Montclair University 3-2 to get to the finals.
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