EDISON — In their season opener against Princeton Day last week, The Wardlaw-Hartridge School girls soccer team couldn’t find the back of the net in a 1-0 defeat.
But in their first conference match-up of the year, the Rams (1-1) found their rhythm to the tune of five goals as they edged Carteret 5-3 Monday afternoon.
The fact that the Rams had four different players score goals, led by Laura Arriaza’s pair, was something that head coach Jackie MacLean was very proud of.
“I’m happy that it was a combination of a bunch of different players,” she said. “That’s a good thing to have when you’re scoring goals.”
Wardlaw-Hartridge jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead, thanks in large part to Alex Garces. The sophomore set up the first tally with a well-positioned corner kick which Taylor Gerhart jumped on in front of the Carteret net and Garces got herself a goal less than five minutes later when she took a Mairead Forrest pass and ripped a shot past Ramblers goalkeeper Aisha Chauhan.
The Rams extended their lead just into the second half when freshman Carlin Schildge recorded her first varsity goal. But, Carteret (1-1) didn’t fold, thanks to a 1-2 punch on offense of Ciara Alston and Fiorella Doglio that not many teams possess.
“We came in with a game plan that their strongest players are Ciara and Fiorella and we knew that if we could shut them down, we’d have a good chance of attacking forward,” MacLean said. “The girls we had playing one-on-one defense against them did a great job and the rest of the defense collapsed behind.”
Doglio, who had scored four times in Carteret’s season opening victory over J.F. Kennedy last week, didn’t get her first shot on goal until the 55th minute. Ciarra Varley stuck to Doglio throughout the contest and didn’t let the talented sophomore get loose to cut into the lead.
But in the 67th minute, Alston converted a through-pass from Doglio to get the Ramblers on the board and cut the lead to 3-1.
“Carteret is a team that constantly pressures from start to finish, regardless of how many goals they’re down and we know that because we’ve played them a lot and they’re always fought hard against us,” MacLean said.
Arriaza’s pair of goals, which came less than 10 minutes apart following Alston’s marker, seemed to put the game out of reach, but in the final moments, Carteret made things interesting.
Doglio ripped a shot from outside of the box that squeaked through goalkeeper Lacey Gress to make the score 5-2 and moments later, Alston raced up the right wing and fired a shot past Gress to cut the lead even further. But the young Rams defense held on from there, something that Forrest said comes from playing competitive games this summer.
“In prior games, we have players not necessarily knowing each other, so having the scrimmages we had against some tough teams, helped us,” said Forrest, who picked up two assists in the contest. “Playing a team so dynamic as Carteret is helped us learn on the fly. Compared to Saturday, there is a huge difference to the way we played.”