BERNARDSVILLE — Gabriella Roselle and Kimberly Wolf scored two minutes apart in the first half as the Caldwell High School girls soccer team captured the NJSIAA North 2 Group II title, defeating Bernards 2-0 on Tuesday.
The Chiefs threw their weight around throughout the contest, keeping the Mountaineers off-balance and looking over their shoulders for oncoming defenders. The physical style of play was a bit surprising, said Bernards coach Chris Habermas.
“They play really physical and that kind of threw us off a little bit, and our girls were really scared to give up a goal,’’ said Habermas. “We were worried about them a little too much, as opposed to paying attention to our own game.”
Roselle got Caldwell on the board at the 16:59 mark, pushing home a loose ball that squeaked by the entire Bernards defense. Mountaineers’ keeper Sarah Ryan came out of the goal to try and make a play on the ball, but it bounced over her head and Roselle was right there for the easy goal.
Less than two minutes later, Wolf added to the Caldwell lead. Caldwell had earned a free kick from just outside of the penalty area, but the ball was cleared away to the far corner of the field. Wolf remained in the middle of the pitch and, two direct passes later, she had the ball back on her foot and crushed it into the back of the Bernards net.
Habermas said he and his coaches tinkered with the philosophy at halftime, but even after the first 40 minutes, Bernards couldn’t solve Caldwell goalie Carleigh Trivino.
“Things for us changed a little bit in the second half. We made some adjustments at halftime and I thought we were much more successful in the second half,” Habermas said. “We put some pressure on them throughout the half and they were on their heels a good amount. We were confident that we were going to get a goal there and we knew we had a lot of work to do to get back in the game.”
The Mountaineers had some good chances to score in the second half but time after time it was the final pass of a sequence that was just a little off, allowing Caldwell to recover and clear the ball out of their end.
Bernards finished with a 16-5 record, something that Habermas said he was proud of, considering some of the preseason expectations placed on his squad.
“This was a great season for us. We can’t just look at this one game and hang our heads,” he said. “We broke the school record for shutouts in a season and we exceeded a lot of expectations. The team grew so much and the captains and our seniors really stepped up and pulled everyone together and it was really successful for us.”