H.S. girls soccer: One title remains for New Milford
With one title under their belts, the Knights are confident they can make a run at another.
Locked in a tie game against Lyndhurst with just over 16 minutes to play, New Milford, ranked No. 18 in The Record girls soccer Top 25, struck for three goals within 12 minutes to earn a 4-1 victory in a physical NJIC Liberty battle on a chilly Monday evening.
It was the Knights sixth straight win and clinched their second straight league title. It also gave them a boost of momentum heading into the state tournament next week.
“Winning two league titles in a row is special,” New Milford coach Joe Albanese said. “It’s very rewarding to know the time and effort the girls put in during the off-season is paying off.
“To win this kind of game definitely has us feeling good about what we can do in states.”
How could it not? The Knights rose to the occasion on offense when it mattered most and produced three well-earned goals in succession against the 19th-ranked Bears.
Junior forward Cydney Borner started it by burying a 25-yard curving free kick into the lower left side of the net to break a 1-1 tie with 16:18 left. Senior midfielder Erin Bigger followed by slamming a loose ball into the netting from a few yards out four minutes later. Less than eight minutes later, Alexis Monroy sealed it with her second goal of the game.
“I’ve actually been working in practice to hit that curve,” Borner said of her momentum-switching goal. “I like to see where I can beat the goalie. I knew I could beat her low because I had the angle on the wall.”
Equally important in this win, and to its recent success, was New Milford‘s defense. It’s given up just two goals during its winning streak and played solid again against a Lyndhurst side that rotated its forwards to get different looks.
The rotation paid off when Bears senior Amanda Nowak sprung through the middle and tied the game with a right-post shot 12 minutes after halftime. But most of the game was played with New Milford in possession of the ball, stringing together short give-and-go passes to open space.
There was a point in the middle of the season where the Knights, who lost in the North 1, Group 1 final last year, were struggling on defense and with confidence. But they’ve made some adjustments and it’s led to the turnaround.
“We have confidence in each other, and that’s what matters,” said Bigger, who assisted Monroy’s first goal headed in midway through the first half. “Our defense has been strong all season. It doesn’t get the credit it deserves. But no matter who’s back there, we have confidence in them.”
Enough to believe title No. 2 is within reach.