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A finer shade of red

November 15, 2012

Wall outplays Allentown on the road to earn trip to the Central Jersey Group III final

ALLENTOWN — According to Wall senior defender Rebecca Mattia, there was a simple explanation as to why such an intense and physical battle broke out between the Crimson Knights and the Allentown Redbirds during the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association [NJSIAA] Central Jersey Group III semifinal on Monday afternoon.

The two squads were simply just exerting their wills to survive and play another day.

“Once you get to this point of the season, everyone wants it, everyone wants to advance,” Mattia said. “You build yourself up throughout the season to get ready for big games like this.”

During Monday’s semifinal, it was evident that both teams coveted a trip to the sectional championship game. In the end, though, Wall would prove to be the team that was willing to go a little bit harder, and dig a little bit deeper, for that adventure west, resulting in a 3-1 victory for the Crimson Knights.

With the win, Wall [14-2-2] advanced play Moorestown High School in the sectional final.

Wall head coach Nancy Gross was proud of a strong effort from her players, who were in the unusual spot of playing as an underdog in the Central Jersey Group III Tournament. In seasons past, Wall has been used to being the top seed. However, this year, the Crimson Knights were given the No. 3 seed in the bracket and were forced to travel to Allentown High School to take on the Redbirds, the No. 2 seed, on the road.

“This year we have had to scrape a little bit more, and fight a little bit more,” Gross said.

The Crimson Knights showed Gross and all those in attendance that they were ready to fight against the tough, favored Redbirds.

The road team set the tone early in the game, getting a goal from junior Nicole Kuerzi off an assist from Mattia in just the seventh minute of action to give the Crimson Knights a 1-0 lead.

“We got off to a strong start,” Gross said.

Following Kuerzi’s goal, Wall was able to control much of the rest of a physical first half, but a late goal from the Redbirds’ Alex Kinsey brought things back even at one heading into halftime.

In the second half, the Crimson Knights picked up their play even harder and eventually took the game over for good off a penalty corner.

Senior Alex Oldock’s goal in the 42nd minute, via Mattia’s second assist, gave Wall a 2-1 lead, one the group never relinquished.

Oldock, who was moved from offense back to defense this season, was happy to get into the mix offensively in the Crimson Knights’ biggest game of the season.

“It just felt good,” Oldock said of scoring her fifth goal of the year. “I like being able to contribute in the back by helping save goals while also being able to put them in. It brought me back.”

Riding the momentum of Oldock’s goal, Wall put the cherry on top in the 53rd minute, compliments of a connection between a senior and freshman.

Beating an Allentown defender to a loose ball near midfield, Wall senior Dayna Nesta was able to out-sprint the Redbirds’ defense down the left sideline, before finding freshman Sam Scire to put Wall up, 3-1.

“I was able to get past the defender and hit it to [Scire’s] stick,” said Nesta, recalling the play. “It just clicked. It felt amazing.”

Allentown had little chance of making a comeback in the game, as Wall’s defense shined late. Led by a 11-save effort from senior Bev Perkins, the defensive unit of she, Oldock, Mattia, Morgan Durkin and Courtney Boland allowed Wall fans to breathe easy during the final seven minutes of action.

*The Crimson Knights were defeated by Moorestown, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III final yesterday.   A full story on the game will be available in next week’s issue of The Coast Star.

Follow me on twitter: @samcostantino

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