Raider, Mustang soccer teams battle ‣ Ocean City Sentinel


Girls teams draw 0-0 in double OT

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Red Raiders and Mainland Mustangs girls soccer teams battled to a scoreless tie at Carey Stadium Monday afternoon.

The Raiders’ decisively controlled possession throughout and seemed destined to break through eventually.

“I tend to nit-pick and the girls know that,” said Raider head Coach Lisa Cuneo, “but our standards are just so high and I refuse to let that go. So it comes across sometimes as me being hard on them but that’s how you get better. We don’t want to settle. So, a Mainland-OC battle, I guess it is what it is.”

The Mainland defense along with keeper Genevieve Morrison were up to the task, bending but never breaking.

“I’m certainly not happy with a tie,” said Mainland head Coach Chris Meade, “but coming over here – you feel like, away, you try to sneak a win against Ocean City or a tie and, at home, you try to take care of your home. So that’s where we are and, in that regard, there’s a little satisfaction.”

“I’m not going to lie, Ocean City is a very hard team,” Morrison said. “It’s nice to have that competition. Our season so far has been a little Rocky, but it’s just beginning. We’re just getting used to playing with each other. Our record right now doesn’t really matter because it’s all up from here.”

The Raiders set the pace from the opening kick, but struggled early to get balls deep.

“Our Mindset is you just keep working until you get it,” Cuneo said. “It will come. It was a grind. It was a grind against Williamstown, too, and against Hammonton. So it doesn’t always have to be a 6-0 blowout and it’s good to teach the girls that. My Halftime speech to them, my pre-game speech to them, is just to keep grinding it out.”

While Mainland did well to limit dangerous chances, they had a hard time clearing or generating counter-rushes.

“Both teams are still finding their identity a little bit,” Meade said. “Both teams are way different than last year, so we’re still finding our identity. I was proud of our energy today; we didn’t play a clean game by any means, but our energy was there. I think both teams are going to be fine when it comes down to it. Hopefully both teams can make a run in Group III together. I have so much respect for the Ocean City program, no question.”

Just past the Midway point of the first half, Morrison had to check out Briefly with a Bloody nose.

“I hated that bloody nose,” Morrison said. “Of course I got it and I called it. I said, ‘I feel like I’m going to get a Bloody nose.’ I got a bloody nose in school and I thought, ‘This is great.’ But I just wanted to get back in. I said, ‘Just stuff something in my nose.’ It made me cry. It was a little painful; I never had something shoved up my nose that big. But it was hard coming out of the game. It’s just a mental thing.”

Late in the game Ocean City upped the pressure and looked poised to capitalize.

“We’ve been working on trying to get the ball out with both feet,” Meade said. “There are times where we have to have poise and play possession, and there are times in the back third based on Mistakes we’ve made in the past we just have to get the ball out, regroup, and just play strong group defense and look for counters. That’s where it was today. We’re not blowing up the scoreboard right now, so we play a hard defensive game and keep it low-scoring and try to knock one in.”

“We pass a lot,” Morrison said, “and sometimes in these types of situations, in this type of game, you don’t need to pass all the time. Maybe just send the ball and run. Those games are difficult but sometimes you have to do that. You can get a goal off of that; you just hope for the best. But I was proud of how we did. A tie is a tie, but to me it feels like a win because I think we grew from this.”

Midfielder McKenna Chisholm had an outstanding game, generating a few scoring chances on great individual runs.

“McKenna was holding it down in the middle because her counterpart is out sick today,” Cuneo said, “so we were kind of filling her counterpart’s space in the middle. She plays with all her heart and soul out there. She gives us all she’s got and a little more sometimes. She went down and we tried to get her back out there as soon as possible and regroup. She’s a big part of the team this year, in the air and just controlling the midfield. We need her; she’s a captain and she’s only a junior. She knows it; she knows the role that we need her to fill this year.”

Mainland made Substitutions at nearly every opportunity to keep fresh legs on the field.

“We took 16 for varsity and 14 for JV because we have six injuries,” Meade said, “so we’re really banged up and I brought three JV kids up and they brought some energy.” The second half played out more evenly with Mainland able to level the field.

Both teams saw great-looking chances clang off the crossbar. When the shots were on net, goalies Morrison and Raider Tori Vliet were money. “Genevieve is behind everybody and she can be a difference-maker,” Meade said.

“It’s kind of a mental thing,” Morrison said. “My defender, Lynn McLaughlin, she’s all mental. You have to keep your head in it, because if your head’s out of it you’re all out of it.”

“Today we worked on our shape in the back,” Meade explained, “and trying to have a defensive plan against a quality Ocean City program when we’re coming in banged up. We have players playing up, doing everything they can, giving every minute and every second that they have.”

With less than 13 minutes left Mainland almost took the lead when a shot ricocheted off the bar, down, and almost in. Both teams put up the effort but to no avail and the game went to overtime.

Raider Naomi Nnewihe Rang yet another shot off the bar early in the extra frame.

Maddie Meade then looked to have won the game when a high, looping ball got past Morrison. The Raiders erupted in celebration unaware of Morrison and an official demonstrably gesturing that the goal wouldn’t stand for interference.

“I knew,” Morrison said. “I tipped it and I knew it wasn’t a big tip, but I knew I had a lot of power on it. But she came in and I saw her over my shoulder, because people usually creep up from behind. So I checked my shoulders and she was there. She came from offside and then back on and she did shove me from behind, which is illegal. But what can you do? I felt like it was a goal because I tipped it in but she did come from behind and offsides.”

The teams would continue to play to a stalemate for a second overtime.

Chisholm nearly ended it with a coast-to-coast tally but fired just wide.

In the Waning seconds, Nnewihe unleashed one more shot that caromed off iron, a fitting finish.

“We have to regroup and refocus,” Cuneo said. “We have Vineland and Millville coming up. So we have to move on from this.”

“I think we are going to respond to this,” Morrison said, “because we’ve been working really hard in practice. I give all credit to my coaches and my Seniors – Jane Meade, Emma Karver, Hannah Cipkins, Madi Naman, and Campbell (Reese) – even though she is hurt, she’s still there for us, she does help us, and she gives us a lot of confidence. Those Seniors are really uplifting when we have games like this.”

“Obviously we haven’t started the way we’ve wanted to,” Meade said. “I think our effort has been better and the score hasn’t shown how we’ve been playing. We’ve had a couple lapses and other teams have taken advantage.”

Ocean City (4-0-1) will head to Vineland for a 4 pm game Friday, Sept. 23.

Mainland (1-3-1) will host Vineland Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m

By KYLE McCRANE/Sentinel Sports

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