Old Bridge girls secure spot in final with win over South Brunswick

EAST BRUNSWICK — With their biggest rival already having secured a spot in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Final, the Old Bridge High School girls soccer team took care of their own business, edging South Brunswick 2-1 in the semifinals of the GMCT Thursday at East Brunswick’s Jay Doyle Field.

The second-seeded Knights will meet top-seeded East Brunswick on Saturday (2 p.m.) in Woodbridge for the title.

Old Bridge got the game’s first goal in the 35th minute after dominating possession for the better part of the game’s first half, when Christina Shannon tapped home a well-placed corner kick from Tara Durstewitz.

They’d double their lead 10 minutes after intermission when Lauren Coletti scooped up a loose ball in front and knocked it past South Brunswick goalkeeper Sydney Schneider.

“I think sometimes that takes a little bit of an edge off to score first; the last game we played them was an overtime game and so we know they’re a serious team and at this point, it’s all hands on deck,” Old Bridge head coach Rob Lozzi said. “When you get out to that lead it takes a little bit of pressure off and then you can play loose. Once we got up 2-0, we played much looser.”

But third-seeded South Brunswick refused to go away quietly, putting Old Bridge on its heels for the final 15 minutes of the contest. The Vikings finally cracked Alley Mauer and cut the lead in half when Rebecca Michael converted a free kick from Cagnie Antzak in the 75th minute. For the final five minutes, South Brunswick pushed everyone forward, trying desperately for an equalizer, but Mauer stoned Brielle Errico with a diving save to her right to preserve the lead.

“We just tried to control the ball in the air and not let it bounce and it got dangerous when the ball bounced,” Lozzi said. “I thought that the kids played smart and finished opportunities and I give South Brunswick a lot of credit. But our kids stayed tough and finished the opportunities we got.”

With the victory, Old Bridge will get a third crack at East Brunswick this season. In the most recent meeting, the Knights ended a nearly seven-year drought against their local rival by winning 2-1, but Lozzi knows that it may be a nail-biter come Saturday.

“We know that against East Brunswick, the game comes down to who makes the lesser number of mistakes,” he said. “Each team is capable of taking advantage of those mistakes. We’re evenly matched. It comes down to which team doesn’t make mistakes. There aren’t going to be a ton of chances at the net, so we need to capitalize on them when they’re present.”

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