OLD BRIDGE — With the temperature sitting in the mid 80’s all afternoon, the girls soccer teams from Old Bridge and Bishop Ahr were feeling the heat
And after a scoreless first half that saw neither team come away with a real quality scoring chance, Old Bridge got the game’s lone goal just after the break for a 1-0 victory in their season opener.
In the 46th minute, Old Bridge pushed forward and eventually won the ball down the right wing, with Lauren Coletti coming away with the ball. The senior got the ball on her right foot and crossed it into the box, where Gianna Taranto settled it down and struck it into the upper right corner of the net for the game’s lone marker.
“When the time came and kids were in the right spots defensively and offensively, we stuck in the goal when we had a chance and it was a good opportunity for us,” Old Bridge head coach Rob Lozzi said.
Bishop Ahr, who had played on Monday and defeated Edison 2-0, couldn’t muster a threatening look at the goal until deep into the second half, and when they did, Knights’ goalkeeper Alley Mauer was there to deny them. Mauer finished with 11 saves to pitch the shutout.
“A really, really solid effort from Alley today,” Lozzi said.
Mauer came up with three dynamite saves after the Knights had taken the lead, one coming on a free kick from about 30 yards away. But the best of the day came in the 75th minute, with Bishop Ahr pushing everyone forward, when Mauer made a diving stop to her right that preserved the victory.
“My heart was racing at the end of this one. I think all of our hearts were,” Mauer said. “We just stuck it out and a save that I make is one we all make. We were all in it together.”
Both teams needed to be on top of their games in the heat of the early season, as both coaches substituted often to keep players fresh.
“I think the heat was huge for both teams,” Lozzi said. “The kids on both teams were really affected by the weather.”
But it wasn’t just the heat that held back the two sides, as throughout the contest, passes went awry and the rhythm of the contest slowed down.
“Our first touch was not there today. I’ll give Bishop Ahr a lot of credit; they had their first touch and moved the ball around really well,” Lozzi said. “We really did a lot to undermine ourselves today, but I think Bishop Ahr had some real nice opportunities and Alley came up with a few nice saves in the second half to preserve it for us.”
Alexa Poveliaitis had Bishop Ahr’s best opportunities in the second half, but couldn’t solve the puzzle that was Mauer on this day.
“Bishop Ahr is a very good team and I think down the line they’ll be a team that we’ll see at the end of the season,” Lozzi said.