Senior co-captain Lily Camacho scored three goals and teammate Gia Milano doled out three assists as the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School girls soccer team cruised to an easy victory over Rahway in the first round of the North Jersey, Section 2 Group 3 Tournament held on October 26 in Scotch Plains. The third-seeded Raiders had no trouble at all with Rahway (4-14) which came in as the 14 seed. The eight goals, no matter who the opponent, was a welcome sign for a Scotch Plains-Fanwood team with a killer defense but which sometimes struggles to score.
“I think, definitely, for the whole team this is a confidence booster,” said senior goalkeeper Rebecca Kessler. “Scoring goals is something we’ve struggled with in the past and I think getting a bunch of goals out there picked up everyone’s confidence combined with a shutout is nice. It makes me confident going into the second round.”
The goals came early and often for the Raiders starting with an ice breaker from Jasmine Gutierrez in the 12th minute. From there it turned into the Lily Camacho show. Camacho dribbled to the left of the goal then fired a left-footed kick inside the post to make it 2-0 in the 15th minute.
“The first one, the ball came in from Gia,” said Camacho who will attend Seton Hall. “She played a perfect ball. I remember just taking a touch past one of the defenders and then just slotting it in the far corner.”
Camacho got her second in the 22nd minute making it 3-0 then completed the hat trick in the 25th minute.
“The third one was a corner from Gia that kind of rattled around in the box and I just kind of put my head on it,” said Camacho.
The Raiders extended the lead to 5-0 after Carys Browne dribbled around a defender and fired one into the corner in the final minute of the half.
By the second half, head coach Kevin Ewing had already pulled starting goaltender Kessler. Several other starters followed clearing the way for underclassmen and reserves to get valuable playing time. The Raiders got second-half goals from Brigitte Priel, Breece Priel and Keira Kelly to cap off the scoring in the 8-0 blowout. The raiders would have killed for just one of those eight goals a few days earlier when they played to a scoreless tie with top seeded Westfield before falling on penalty kicks in the championship match.
“A big part of playing a sport and being an athlete is having a short memory,” said Camacho. “We didn’t have the outcome we wanted in counties. It was disappointing and sad but moving on from that, this game was a good way to build momentum for the next round.”
The Raiders utilized three goaltenders in the match in Kessler, Joslyn Odim and Morgan Virgil. The trio needed only to stop three shots for the game. The win propelled the Raiders into a quarterfinal round match with sixth-seeded Mendham who figures to offer a much stiffer challenge than Rahway could provide.
For her part, Camacho sees the offensive explosion as a sign of things to come.
“In past games we’ve had similar amounts of opportunities as we had in this game but we haven’t been able to capitalize. Now that we’ve worked together so long we were able to capitalize on eight of those shots, which is a big improvement from past games. So I don’t think we run the risk of gaining a false sense of confidence, I think it’s definitely a sign of improvement.”