Walters strike lifts Lenape over Absegami to win Coaches

Lenape forward Kate Walters ended the suspense in the biggest soccer game of the season Saturday afternoon, when she scored with 47 seconds remaining of the second overtime to lift the Indians to a 2-1 victory over Absegami.

The win gave Lenape (16-1-2) the trophy in the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association Tournament championship game at Eastern High School.

It was the fourth straight title the top-seeded Indians have won in the prestigious tournament. Absegami (17-2), the 11th seed, was pursuing its first.

"Winning four times in a row is great - we knew we had the potential to do it and we did," said Walters, a freshman. "I was running down the middle of the field and I turned the girl and I shot with my left foot into the upper left corner. I'm a right-footed player, but I've been practicing my left."

Walters, a freshman, leads the team in scoring with 15 goals.

Absegasmi, which plays a possession-style game, seemed to play with more confidence after intermission, when it trailed, 1-0, and in the first overtime against the fast-paced Indians.

In the second overtime, Lenape outshot the Braves, 3-0.

"It's a very significant accomplishment," Lenape coach Kevin Meder said about winning four in a row. "It's the top 16 teams in South Jersey and we had to beat a very good Absegami team."

Absegami senior forward Danielle Baumann had a breakaway with about 3 minutes left in the first overtime and fired from about 10 yards out. However, Lenape goaltender Allison Johnson smothered the ball.

Absegami's Erica Scroski tied the score, 1-1, 13:18 into the second half when a Lenape defender fell as they were running toward the left post and the junior midfielder fired high and found the middle of the net for the score.

The Braves were more aggressive in the second half, when they had four shots to three for Lenape.

Earlier, Lenape took a 1-0 lead with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the first half when freshman forward Rachelle Ross took a feed from freshman forward Kate Walters and blasted the ball to the right corner of the net.

The shot was the Indians' sixth of the half and the goal deprived Absegami goalkeeper Hannah Paugh of her 11th shutout of the season, which would have tied the single-season record for shutouts set by Jen Jackson in 2002.

Paugh had six saves before intermission. Lenape goalie Allison Johnson had none because the Indians were dominating possession and attacking. Absegami also had one corner kick to four for Lenape.

In a boys' rematch of last season's final, there was a role reversal. Rancocas Valley, the favorite a year ago, was the underdog on Saturday. Rancocas Valley beat St. Augustine, 1-0, last year, but this time the Hermits were the No. 1 seed and out for revenge against the 10th-seeded Red Devils.

They got it with style as senior halfback Connor Hurff scored a hat trick in a 3-1 victory.

"It means a lot to know that we were the first team to win it for the school," Hurff said of the tournament title.

"The first goal, I saw an opening and thought I'd test the goalie and it went in. The second one, I kind of bent it over his head - and the third one, I was just dribbling over the middle and it just happened to go in the corner."

St. Augustine took a 1-0 lead with 3:10 left in the first half when Hurff beat four defenders and goaltender Ryan Sanders low to the left off of Sanders' outstretched hand.

Hurff scored again with 26:07 remaining in the second half on a kick that sent the ball curving left and high into the net.

Lenape midfielder Bobby Spracklin, the Red Raiders' only returning full-time returning starter, scored off a corner kick with 22:40 left in the second half to cut St. Augustine's lead to 2-1.

Hurff completed a hat trick with 7:03 left to play when he dodged a defender and launched a left-footed shot to the upper left corner of the net.

Absegami   0 1 0 0 - 1

Lenape   1 0 0 1 - 2

Goals: A - Erica Skroski. L – Rachelle Ross, Kate Walters

Saves: A – Hannah Paugh 10. L – Allison Johnson 6.

Rancocas Valley   0 1 - 1

St. Augustine   1 2 - 3

Goals: RV – Bobby Spracklin. SA – Connor Hurff (3).

Saves: RV –Ryan Sanders 10. SA – 5.

 


Contact staff writer Bill Iezzi at 856-779-3826 or biezzi@phillynews.com.