Seneca girls soccer wins South Jersey Group 3 title, falls in state group semifinal
Earlier this year, the Seneca High School girls soccer team made a goal to win the sectional finals, after a heartbreaking loss last season against Toms River South, 3–2.
The team achieved that goal, winning its second-ever South Jersey Group 3 title when the girls came out on top over Highland Regional High School, 4–2. Seneca girls soccer hasn’t won a sectional title since 2008, with a 1–0 victory over Lacey Township High School.
“I am so proud of them. They practiced and played each day with the playoffs in mind, and to achieve and have that goal realized is something very special,” Coach Ron Jensen said.
The Golden Eagles were confident going into the game, according to Jensen. He said the team felt like it could beat Highland with good possession of the ball and relentless pressure on defense.
Seneca was the first to score, with a direct kick by Mackenzie Hoffman from Alexa Brown. However, the advantage was short lived, as Highland scored about three minutes later. Jensen said there was a lot of back and forth, and the girls were able to put some pressure on Highland’s goal, but couldn’t get the ball in the net.
The game continued with two overtime periods, but there was no break in the score. The decision had to be made by penalty kicks.
“I was pretty confident in my shooters and goalkeeper. We practiced penalty kicks, and the shooters seemed relaxed and not phased by the circumstances,” Jensen said.
The lineup was Hoffman, Anna Yannessa, Emily Meale and Brown taking the penalty kicks against Highland, with goalkeeper Samantha Andrews defending Seneca’s goal. Jensen said the girls had a combination of steady nerves and a consistent shot.
Andrews made the first save, taking a bit of pressure off the penalty kickers to follow. When she made the second save, victory was ensured. Brown made the final goal, with a 4–2 outcome and a win for the Golden Eagles.
The girls celebrated their accomplishment with screams, hugs and cupcakes.
Jensen expressed he was so proud of not only how the girls played that game, but how they conducted themselves throughout the season.
“They were accountable to each other, they played with passion and intensity, they were mature and confident. With those ingredients, they can accomplish any goal they set for themselves,” Jensen said.
The girls advanced to the state semifinals, competing in the New Jersey Group 3 semifinals on Nov. 15 against Wall High School, the №6 ranked team in New Jersey. The girls got a huge confidence boost in the beginning when they scored not even a minute into the game, but Wall came back with a score of their own. The game went into overtime where Seneca lost to Wall, 2–1.
“This was really a special group of players. They had such determination and focus throughout the season and played some really excellent soccer. We had great leadership from the seniors, and this team was so much fun to be around,” Jensen said.