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Knights defense bullies Bulldogs in playoff tune-up

October 13, 2011

RUMSON — Last Friday afternoon’s non-divisional game between Wall and Rumson-Fair Haven was just what the Crimson Knights needed prior to entering the Shore Conference Tournament, which will begin for the team on Wednesday.

“You need games like this to get yourself ready,” said Wall head coach Nancy Gross.

Wall faced a tough, 9-2 Bulldogs team on a turf field, which, if they advance as far they would like to, is the surface the Crimson Knights will compete on late in the season.

“It was the first time we played on turf [this season], and they play on the turf all the time,” said Gross referring to Rumson-Fair Haven. “It was an adjustment to the surface and the way the ball moves much faster and smoother.”

The Crimson Knights would make the quick adjustment in the first half to take the lead on a goal by sophomore Sophie Lozowski, then hold on with stifling defense in the second half to preserve a 1-0 road victory.

With the win, Wall moved to 9-0-2 on the season.

Senior veteran Alexis Carlsson, who has experienced many big playoff games in her time at Wall, knew how instrumental the game against Rumson-Fair Haven was in getting the Crimson Knights ready for a late-season run.

“It is definitely a great way to get ready for the postseason,” Carlsson said. “We got the chance to play on turf and had a lot of the new girls step up tremendously. This win set the tone for the postseason.”

The key to the victory was the play of the defense.

“The defense stepped up and did a good job today,” Gross said. “We changed some things around last week.”

The unit was led by junior goal keeper Bev Perkins, who recorded seven saves in the shutout. The goalie made many key stops in the second half and also stopped a breakaway in the final minute of the first half to preserve Wall’s one-goal lead heading into the break. Gross was impressed with her net-minder.

“Bev did an outstanding job in the goal today,” said the coach of Perkins. “She hasn’t been challenged too much [this season] so this was good. She had to step up today and she did.”

Perkins felt that it was strong communication within Wall’s defense unit of Carlsson and juniors Courtney Boland, Morgan Durkin and Rebecca Mattia that helped the team hold on to the shutout.

In her second year as the starting goalie, Perkins wanted to take on more of a leadership role and feels she has done so.

“I try to take on a leadership position back there because everyone looks to the goalie for communication,” said Perkins. “You have to let them know where you need them to be so they are not in my vision. We just try to talk to each other and lead each other to the right spots.”

Perkins was working closely with Carlsson, who agreed with her teammate that team work and being vocal was crucial in the win over the Bulldogs.

“Communication is so key in making sure we control the field,” she said. “We have to make sure we mark tight inside the 25 and have all the passing lanes covered.”

The senior added that a strong bond within the team has helped Wall, not only in the game against Rumson-Fair Haven, but also throughout entire season, one in which the Crimson Knights were labeled as a “rebuilding team.”

“Since the first day of preseason until now, we have built so much as a team on and off of the field,” Carlsson said. “Everyone has filled into their spots and everyone is interchangeable. Everybody is working really well together this season.”

The Crimson Knights took their lead with just 6:55 remaining in the first half on the goal by Lozowski. Off a penalty corner, Lozowski rebounded her first attempt, putting the ball into the back of the Bulldogs’ net.

Just a sophomore, Gross feels Lozowski is a player Wall can count on for offense in the postseason.

“Sophie is great — she was playing at center mid[field] and had the opportunity to go through and take the shot,” said Gross. “It is what we ask the girls to do, and she did just what the coaches asked her to. It was a beautiful goal.”

Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/SamCostantino

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