Rarely are South Jersey semifinal soccer games as one-sided as the contest between the West Deptford High School girls’ soccer team and Cinnaminson, Tuesday afternoon.
No. 4 West Deptford possessed the ball throughout the entire game, kept the ball on Cinnaminson’s side of the field for about 75 of the 80 minutes, and limited the Pirates to one shot on goal. If it were a boxing match, Cinnaminson would not have been awarded a single round.
But soccer can be cruel at times and the sport issued the harshest of lessons to the Eagles, ending their season.
Janea Dockins scored on Cinnaminson’s only shot on target and the Pirates bunkered down the rest of the way, recording a 1-0 victory in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 semifinals.
No. 8 Cinnaminson will face No. 3 Woodstown in the final.
“We wanted this really bad,” said West Deptford senior forward Megan Sullivan. “It (stinks). It’s horrible. It’s the worst feeling losing to a team you know you are better than. I mean, I wish them the best of luck and hope they do well in the playoffs, but obviously I wish we would have won.”
The Eagles had the better of the play from the opening kick, but were often limited to shots from long range or wide angles. The Eagles’ five-midfielder formation allowed the team to dominate possession throughout the contest.
One of Cinnaminson’s few offensive attacks came late in the first half and the team capitalized. A long throw in from Brittney Runyen found Dockins, who fired a shot to the right of diving West Deptford goalie Anna Kipp.
“It’s frustrating,” West Deptford coach Veronica McGinniss said. “I just feel bad for my seniors. They came out and played really hard and the score just didn’t reflect that.”
To Cinnaminson’s credit, the squad has mastered the art of winning games without creating many opportunities. The Pirates did exactly that last week when they upset No. 1 Haddonfield 1-0.
“We know our strengths and we know our weaknesses so we are just trying to play more to our strengths,” said Cinnaminson coach Matt Digney. “We are playing smart soccer, getting behind the ball with a hard defense and then take advantage of our opportunities, which we have.”
Digney said the two victories were not entirely similar, but the one common thread was a defense that held when it needed to.
“West Deptford and Haddonfield are two very good teams, but it’s a different style,” said Digney. “(West Deptford) plays good, quality soccer. They really open up the field well. We were just able to disrupt their play and break their momentum with bend-don’t-break defense.”
The Eagles really picked up their intensity over the final 20 minutes, creating one scoring chance after another. Chelsea Richtie fired in a shot from about 15 yards out that seemed destined for the back of the net before it hit off a defender several yards from the net with six minutes left in regulation. Moments later, Payton McGinniss nearly tied the game in the final minute when she had a good look off a corner kick, but her shot went right to Pirates keeper Julie Averill.
“I felt like a goal was going to come,” Sullivan said. “Even in the first half we kept getting shots. It’s just a matter of putting it in the back of the net and I honestly thought we were going to put one in there.”
The loss brings a disappointing end to a special season for the Eagles. McGinniss said the team went out playing its best soccer of the season.
“They got better each game and I think in the last week they have played the best I have ever seen them play,” McGinniss said. “They were really getting all the concepts, being patient, possessing well, shooting well, finding the corners. Tonight we just hit their goalie a lot.”