Nineteenth ranked Manalapan and Allentown faced each other yesterday in final game of season as they get ready for states next week. Both teams came out with great defenses to start the game and trying to get an up-tempo offense going also. Manalapan was able to score a late goal to win 1-0 against Allentown to improve to 11-3-1 on the season, while Allentown dropped to 14-3.
The theme in first half was defense for both teams as Manalapan was able to trap Allentown's offense during the match with a couple of clean tackles. Goalkeeper Laila Shaw had a fantastic game by making unbelievable saves, staying alert the whole time, moving great on the line and getting the ball away. Allentown had a lot of opportunities against the freshman goalkeeper, but she turned them away to keep a clean sheet.
Manalapan's starting goalkeeper Emma Guidotti is recovering from an ACL injury and Shaw has stepped up big time for them. Julia DiStefano also had a strong match for Manalapan as she was the leader on defense, keeping the back line organized and getting big time clears. DiStefano has been one of the better center backs in the Shore Conference this season and has continued to get better.
At halftime, Manalapan's head coach John Rogers made some adjustments for his players against Allentown which payed off because the intensity picked up on both sides of the ball. Junior midfielder Sydney Spilsbury was all over the field Friday as she made big impact on both offense and defense. She was able to dictate flow of the game by controlling the ball, winning the 50-50 balls, attacking on defense, setting up her teammates with crosses and passes and helping Manalapan get more up-tempo in second half.
Manalapan was looking for that game changing goal, which they finally got with 16:00 minutes left in the second half from forward/striker Vanessa Sarf. Sarf talked about the work it took to get the goal, along with what the game meant for the team.
"It was really hard at first to get that goal," Sarf said. "[We] really worked to get the goal. We had a lot of chances and couldn't really finish them, big to finish on this one, win a 1-0 game and going into states."
With this win, Manalapan will be focusing on States during the week and getting ready for the opening round of the tournament, which starts on October 26.
Here are some postgame quotes from DiStefano and Spilsbury with Jersey Sporting News about the win.
"This is a really good team win, great way to end the season off, get started with states and hope to get far in it," DiStefano said.
"We worked very, very hard as a team, great way to go into states and performed well as a team," Spilsbury said.
Look For Manalapan to Have the Momentum from Friday's Game Going into States and Staying Focused.