Another state title is in the books for the Shore Regional High School girls’ soccer team. With their offensive attack hitting its stride at just the right time, the Blue Devils are going back to the group stage after winning their fourth consecutive NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group I championship.
Shore Regional has dominated the bracket since moving to Central Jersey Group I in 2012. The Blue Devils cruised to this year’s finals on their way to a fourth straight sectional crown, capping the run with a 4-0 shutout of Metuchen High School.
It took 35 minutes to break the ice, but junior Katie Stephens found the back of the net to put the top-seeded Blue Devils in front by a goal at halftime. A second-half surge put the game out of reach. Jessica Egan, a senior, padded Shore Regional’s lead six minutes after the break. Freshman Frankie McDonough scored the third goal for the Blue Devils, and a goal by Devon McDonough put the finishing touches on the victory.
Shore Regional has found the right formula for postseason success.
“In any sport, as a coach, you have to have a system and believe in it. For us, it’s total soccer. When we have the ball, we all play offense. When we’re on defense, we all play defense,” head coach George Moutis said. “I’ve been fortunate to have girls that really respond. It’s been a blessing.”
The offense is firing on all cylinders. Moutis called senior Shannon Bonner the glue of the team, and Stephens has also played a central role. A Shore Conference Tournament matchup against Holmdel High School was the turning point for the Blue Devils’ attack. That was the game, Moutis recalled, that Shore Regional began to find its rhythm.
“The girls started gelling together,” he said of the 4-0 win over Holmdel.
The offense was the last piece of the puzzle for the eventual Central Jersey, Group 1 champion. “We always had the rest,” Moutis said. Shore Regional’s experienced defense has stood out, too. Over the first three rounds of the state tournament, the team outscored its opponents, 26-3. In the championship match, goalie Katie Colagouri made eight saves to keep the shutout alive.
“The defense has been together for almost three years now. That’s key to our team,” Moutis said.
The Blue Devils (19-4-1) opened the Group 1 playoffs against Haddon Heights High School Nov. 17. This semifinals winner will play for the Group I state title Nov. 21 at Kean University.
In the Central Jersey, Group II championship, Rumson- Fair Haven Regional High School lost a hard-fought battle that ended in penalty kicks. Holmdel emerged with a 4-3 win, thanks to two goals from Hannah Lee and a game-clinching kick off the foot of Maggie Matthijs.
The Bulldogs (18-3-2), seeded first in their bracket, did not allow a goal in any of the first three rounds. They shut out Arthur L. Johnson High School of Clark, 2-0, to advance to the sectional title game.