NORTH BRUNSWICK — Coming into the season, the Metuchen High School girls soccer team needed one win to give their coach a milestone worth celebrating. The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time, dominating North Brunswick 6-2 Saturday afternoon and in the process, head coach Val Gazda earned her 300th victory at Metuchen in the season opener.
Gazda, who mentioned that her first coaching game was against North Brunswick and her 100th victory came against the Raiders as well, so to get the milestone against a familiar opponent made it extra special.
“I knew it would come some time soon. If it didn’t happen today, Tuesday would be another chance,” Gazda said. “It’s huge and the fact that this is my 24th year in this program, I just sit back and say ‘wow.’ It’s really cool.”
Gazda’s players did the work on this day, turning a 1-1 halftime tie into a 3-1 lead in just five minutes in the second stanza. Senior Emily Corson scored both of those quick goals, the second coming on a penalty kick after North Brunswick picked up a handball in the box.
“During halftime, along with the other captains, I talked about how we needed to pick it up and those two goals helped change it all for us,” Corson said. “That penalty kick set the tempo for the rest of the half.”
Once they took the lead, Metuchen was off and running, as Katharine Chura and Gabby Cyran added markers to put the contest out of reach. With the outcome not in doubt and win no. 300 all but assured, Gazda said she didn’t even know if her squad knew that the victory would be anything more than a 1-0 start to their season.
“I didn’t mention anything to them,” she said. “At halftime, they were talking about playing with the consistency that we expect and in the second half we maintained that. And if you can put a couple more nails in, it definitely helps.”
The Bulldogs got the game’s first goal when Cyran lofted a cross into the box and a North Brunswick player directed it into her own net in the 11th minute. But just before the half, Julie Youngman knotted the score for the Raiders, blasting a shot high over goalkeeper Emily Buchanan.
The score stayed tied until the 43rd minute, when Corson parked herself in front of the North Brunswick net and goalkeeper Danielle Segerholm, got a pass from a teammate and knocked the ball home.
After a solid strike to convert the penalty, Corson added an assist to her afternoon by crossing a pass from the right corner directly onto the foot of Chura, who was denied on her first attempt by Segerholm, but kept with it and tapped home the easy goal.
“Emily is becoming a force up top with some speed,” Gazda said. “She’s an attacking mid, but her and Gabby are in their senior year and the seniors were holding it together today and they really want the best for this program.”
Lindsay Hoagland also scored for North Brunswick, which had trouble putting multiple passes together throughout the day. The Raiders are back in action Monday when they travel to Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Metuchen will look to go to 2-0 when they host Highland Park.