NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–With a chance to take a lead in the Greater Middlesex Conference's gold division, the New Brunswick girls varsity soccer team (4-2-0) came ready with a fire under them in the September 23 game.
The Lady Zebras hosted the visiting John F. Kennedy Mustangs (1-7-0) in an evenly matched game. With tenacious defense played by both sides, the two teams made it difficult to create opportunities to score.
Throughout the first half, neither team seemed to have the ability to gain good field position or have chances to strike inside the box.
The Mustangs worked much of the time inside their own half, using counterattacks to create many of their looks at goal. Meanwhile, the Zebras seemed to be clicking as a team, but struggled to pull together a complete play.
In the 25th minute, the Zebras were awarded a direct free kick a few yards away from the semicircle in the Mustang half. Taking the kick was midfielder, Abigail Luengas, who is also the team's leading goal scorer with seven goals on the season.
Despite standing 50 yards away, Luengas was envisioning how to put her shot into the back of the net.
After a small windup, she delivered an accurately placed to ball to not only avoid the wall standing at the 18-yard-line, but to place it out of reach from the Mustang goalkeeper and into the right side of the goal. Goooolaaazzzooo!
When asked about her far goal and on the game, Luengas said, "When I take free kicks I usually aim for goal, and now it's not a surprise scoring anymore…I think it was a good game. We all played as a team."
Not many teams can say they have a player who can score a goal 50 yards out.
Later in the first half, Lynne Dominguez extended the Zebra lead with a goal of her own. In the 36th minute, Dominguez found herself wide open on the right sideline from 20 yards out after receiving a miraculous cross from midfielder, Itzel Garcia Rivera.
Rivera switched fields from the far sideline in front of multiple defenders to connect with Dominguez. With it, Dominguez played it off with one touch to sail high over the goalkeeper, who was not able to haul it down. Zebras 2-0.
The tenacious tone of the game was set by their captain, Odalis Montes who took many hard hits, making sure to challenge each player aggressively and not let the Mustangs have anything easy.
Montes said "Never give up. No matter even if you're injured, but to a certain extent, you got to play tough and show what Zebras is all about."
When asked about the strategy for the game, Coach Michael Shymanski said, "When it comes down to it, no matter who we're playing, we talk about playing hard, playing with respect, and giving everything that we have when we are on the field."
"It's all about communication. It's all about that family atmosphere that we always talk about. And if we do those things, more often than not, I feel we'll always be successful on the field."
The Zebras will take on the Highland Park Owls at home on Friday, September 25 at 4:00pm.
Goals: Luengas 25th minute, Dominguez 36th minute
Assists: Rivera 36th minute