Lincroft, NJ- For the third season in a row, the Brookdale women's soccer team clinched the Garden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) title. The Blues blanked the Blue Colts of Middlesex County College, 4-0 in the last conference game of the season.
In the second half, sophomore forward Caroline Duerr found the back of the net in the 46th minute to put the Blues on the board. Duerr also posted another goal and tallied two assists.
Freshman forward Brianna Penix headed the ball past the goalkeeper to put the Jersey Blues up by two. Sophomore center-midfielder Brooke Tartis broke through the Blue Colts defense, netting her 13th goal of the year. Tartis also collected one assist.
Freshman goalkeeper Marti Stewart came up with 2 big saves in the back, collecting a total of nine saves for the day.
The team improves their overall record to 16-1 and 8-0 in conference play. Brookdale returns to action on Saturday, November 1st at Ocean County College for the Region XIX finals game.
Article is courtesy of Mike Ready, a journalist for the Jersey Sporting News and Middletown Patch, who covers Brookdale Community College athletics.
LINCROFT – The Brookdale women's soccer team closed out the regular season by winning their 14th game in a row defeating Middlesex County 4-0 Tuesday on the Jersey Blues home pitch.
The Jersey Blues (17-1, 8-0) are the NJCAA DIII defending national champions and have been ranked No.1 in the country since the preseason polls were released last August.
They have outscored their opponents 78-8 with 10 shutouts and have not allowed more than one goal in any given game. Their only loss of the season was a 1-0 battle in their third game against Mercer County - a DI school.
In Tuesday's win, Middlesex attempted to slow down the Brookdale offensive attack by dropping their midfielders deep into the backfield, clogging the middle and essentially employing a prevent defense.
The strategy frustrated the Blues and although they had five shots on goal in the first half – three in the final minute - none found the back of the net as the half ended in a scoreless tie.
Some flashy goal tending by Middlesex keeper Kelly Raub in the final minute of the first half kept the game scoreless when freshman forward Brianna Penix (Ocean Twp. H.S.), star forward Caroline Duerr (Manasquan H.S.) and sophomore midfielder Nicloe Rodriguez (Union H.S.) all had their chances from in close, with Duerr's shot hitting the crossbar.
Duerr finally broke the ice a minute into the second half finishing off a Meghan Begley (Mater Dei Prep) pass with a lazar shot about chest high and to the right of Raub. Raup was helpless in the net and never even moved as the shot whizzed by her.
"Caroline's first goal was huge for us," Brookdale head coach Katie Miller said. "We were down a bit and playing nervous after not scoring in the first half. That gave us some momentum and fired us up."
Play continued to be in the Brookdale offensive zone with Middlesex not even crossing midfield field until there was about 22 minutes left in the game, however, the Blues still only held a precarious 1-0 lead and the Middlesex game plan of frustrating Brookdale offensively and hoping for a lucky break for a score was still in play.
Penix finally gave the Blues some breathing room at the 75:00 minute mark scoring off an assist from Duerr that sparked two more goals by the Blues in the final 10 minutes. Sophomore Brooke Tartis (Neptune H.S.) scored her 13th goal of the season at the 83:57 mark with assists from Duerr and freshman midfielder Kimberly D'Ermilio (Old Bridge H.S.) and Duerr netted her 28th of the season off a Tartis assist with three and a half minutes remaining in the game.
Duerr's 28 goals scored ties her for second place in NJCAA DIII play and her two assists (13) give her 69 points on the year which is also good for second in NJCCA DIII play.
"It felt like 90 minutes of defense today," Duerr said. "As soon as they possessed the ball it would wind up in our possession again. It was just a matter of us capitalizing and finding the net. It was kind of tricky after a 0-0 half but we pulled it out at the end. Once we got the ball rolling with the first goal we started playing the way we're capable of playing. "
Sophomore sweeper Amanda Anastasia (Middletown South H.S.) had another solid game in the back and epitomizes the team concept that has made Brookdale so successful over the past two seasons.
After scoring the winning goal in last year's championship game as a midfielder and developing into a huge offensive threat, Miller was in dire need of some veteran leadership in the backfield this season and asked Anastasia to make the switch. Without hesitation she agreed and she has blossomed into one of the best defenders in the conference as well as becoming an unflappable leader on and off the field.
"It was a weird transition at first, it's a different dynamic, but I've grown too really like it," Anastasia said. "Everyone on this team does whatever it takes to win – that's what I love about this team. It would be the best feeling in the world if we can repeat as champions."
"Amanda represents what a team player is," Miller said. "She's been willing to learn and go through this tough process in the back without even giving it a second thought and has done a phenomenal job for us all year long."
"Amanda's been such a great team player from the get go," Duerr said. "She'll go anywhere on the field to play, she doesn't care as long as she's helping the team. Amanda's a great leader in terms of team concept and we all try to follow her lead."
Brookdale can now turn its attention to defending its national title but first must advance past the Region XIX Tournament and into the NJCAA DIII Tournament which will be held at Ocean County Community College this year.
"We have our work cut out for us if we make it to the national tournament," Miller said. "We'll have to work extremely hard. The New York teams I've seen are really solid and playing excellent soccer right now. We'll have to continue to do all the little things right and most importantly pass to feet – that's our game."