Moorestown battles, but succumbs in end
First-timers in the crowd gawked at Jackie Reyneke's big throw-in. The 6-foot-4 Northern Highlands defender is the Joe Namath of high school girls' soccer.
First-timers in the crowd gawked at Jackie Reyneke's big throw-in.
The 6-foot-4 Northern Highlands defender is the Joe Namath of high school girls' soccer.
The throw, which can sail 40-plus yards in the air, is on par with what you might expect to see at a Philadelphia Union game.
Along with an otherworldly throw-in, Northern Highlands featured a carousel of scoring options, a plethora of future Division-I players, and a 47-game winning streak.
Moorestown entered Sunday's Group 3 state final as an underdog. The Quakers knew it but rarely let it show in a 3-1 loss at the College of New Jersey.
"Whether we're the better team or not doesn't matter - we're going to fight," said Moorestown coach Bill Mulvihill. "That's what's so special about this team. We knew we were overmatched, but we weren't intimidated."
The game started similarly to last year's state title match between the two teams, which Northern Highlands won, 2-0. The Highlanders quickly established themselves as the aggressors.
But in the face of relentless pressure, the Quakers (17-5-1) took a 1-0 lead with 7 minutes, 39 seconds left in the first half.
Junior Marie McCool beat a defender to a loose ball just outside the 18-yard box. The Highlanders keeper came out to challenge for the ball, and McCool beat her, too, as she flicked the shot into an open net.
"It was a great feeling to score that goal," said McCool, who just missed on a breakaway with 25 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game. "No one thought we would even have a chance in this game, so going up 1-0 was great. In the end, it was a tough loss. But we're proud of the way we played."
Northern Highlands (24-0) continued controlling the run of play after the score, and Hana Kerner's second-half hat trick pushed the Highlanders to their 48th straight win.
Freshman goalie Carly Blessing stood out for the Quakers, showing poise and tremendous hands as she turned away or caught numerous throws in the face of traffic.
"We knew about the throw-ins, and we worked a lot on it," Blessing said. "It's been a great season, playing with such great players and being able to grow, myself, as a player."
Moorestown overcame an 0-3 start this season before winning the South Jersey Group 3 tournament as the No. 4 seed.
"This run is incredible," Mulvihill said. "When we lost here last year, no one expected us to be back. But we made it back and our goal is to get back here again next year - at least next year we won't have to see that stinking throw."
Moorestown 1 0 - 1
Northern Highlands 0 3 - 3
Goals: M–Marie McCool; NH–Hana Kerner 3. Saves: M–Carly Blessing 9; NH–Brooke Holle 3.