SUMMIT, NJ - West Morris Central scored a late first-half goal and made that lone tally stand up, defeating the Summit High School Girls Varsity Soccer team, 1-0, and eliminating the Hilltoppers from state tournament competition.
Playing in wet and raw conditions, Summit -- seeded 11th in tournament play, began the match brightly against third-seeded West Morris Central, but the Wolfpack had the run of play in final 20 minutes of the half. Only some solid goalkeeping by the Hilltoppers' Callie Humphrey, and some narrowly missed chances by West Morris, kept the game level and scoreless as halftime approached.
With just over three minutes remaining, a free kick was awarded to West Morris, about 25 yards from goal on the pitch's left side. The ball was flighted into the box, not fully cleared by the Summit defense, and fell to the feet of West Morris' Christina Hein. Hein's low, right-footed bouncing shot beat Humphrey to the goalkeeper's right and it was 1-nil Wolfpack.
The second half saw conditions worsen, and the play was hard fought and evenly contested. Summit's best chance of the half -- and the game -- came with just over 21 minutes remaining, as a through-ball on the ride side was played to Morgan Strabley. Strabley did well to collect the ball, and even better to loft a delicate chip over the onrushing West Morris goalkeeper, only to see her shot sky just over the crossbar. Summit put in a valiant final 20 minutes, but could not break through.
"Our goal coming into the match was to neutralize their best players, and we did that," said Summit Head Coach Michael Poller. He added, "We made ourselves tough to play against, and I thought we had our best effort of the year today. That is encouraging for our returning underclass, but bittersweet for our seniors."