Haddonfield is determined not to share
The 0-0 tie in last year's state final game is on the Bulldogs' minds. This time, they want it all.
By Bill Iezzi
Inquirer Suburban Staff
Jill Heindel hadn't even cooled down after Haddonfield's 3-1 victory over Somerville Tuesday night in the NJSIAA Group 2 girls' soccer state semifinal when she made a bold prediction.
"Sharing the title [again] won't happen," said Heindel, a senior captain. "We will win it outright."
As the Bulldogs (23-2) head into Saturday's state Group 2 final against River Dell, the North Jersey 1 champ, at the College of New Jersey, Heindel and her teammates have last year's 0-0 tie with Pascack Valley on their minds.
Because there are no penalty kicks in the state championship final, Haddonfield and Pascack Valley, who battled into two overtime periods and remained deadlocked, were declared cochampions.
Junior captain Maggie Lupinski remembers the numb feeling she experienced after the championship game ended with no winner.
"We just didn't know how to react," said Lupinski, a forward-midfielder who leads all Haddonfield scorers with 21 goals and 12 assists. "We didn't lose, and we didn't win.
"This year, we definitely want to win it outright."
Heindel, who scored two goals against Somerville, said the reason she is certain that Haddonfield will prevail is that this year's squad is senior-dominated and seasoned in the ways of state-championship competition.
Last year's experience was intimidating to some players.
"We know what to expect," said Heindel, a skilled midfielder with nine goals and 14 assists. "We're more relaxed. Even today we were more relaxed than last season."
Lupinski, who reinvigorated the Bulldogs with a goal that recaptured the lead, 2-1, against Somerville in the second half, added team chemistry as a reason why Haddonfield should be the lone title-holder this time.
She said that the girls have bonded better this year while filling in vacancies created by three seniors who graduated.
Heindel and Lupinski also said that the team learned how to be resilient during regular-season competition as well as in the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association Tournament. The players don't become rattled when tied or behind on the scoreboard.
West Deptford tied Haddonfield, 1-1, on Oct. 6, and the Bulldogs bounced back to win, 5-1. In the quarterfinal round of the coaches tournament, Eastern, a Group 4 school, jumped out to a 1-0 lead, and Haddonfield came back to win, 2-1, in overtime. The Bulldogs lost to Bishop Eustace, 1-0, in the Oct. 29 final. But as Lupinski pointed out, Haddonfield played well against another good team. Eustace is ranked No. 1 by The Inquirer.
"What the loss to Bishop Eustace taught us was that we had to work on finishing [shots] and restarts, and that's what we have been doing," Heindel said.
"We haven't lost since."
Dominating Haddonfield hands Somerville a loss
With their 3-1 triumph, the Bulldogs will face the winner of the River Dell-West Essex game.
By Bill Iezzi
Inquirer Suburban Staff
Sometimes an early lead in a soccer game can be a curse.
Luckily for the Haddonfield girls, it didn't turn out that way last night at Washington Township, where, after losing their early advantage, the Bulldogs rebounded to defeat Somerville, 3-1, in a Group 2 state semifinal.
The Bulldogs (23-2) will take on the winner of the River Dell-West Essex game in the state final Saturday at the College of New Jersey.
Not only did Haddonfield, the defending South Jersey and state Group 2 champion, jump out to a quick lead, but the goal itself may have been regarded by some as a fluke against Somerville (17-4-1), the Central Jersey Group 2 titlist.
Haddonfield's Jill Heindel lofted a high, arcing corner kick that curved left into the net on a night when there was little wind.
Everyone was astonished, especially since the game was just 4 minutes, 3 seconds old. The Pioneers' defense may have been transfixed by the curve of the ball.
"I'm left-footed, but I tried it [the kick] with my right foot, so I was surprised when it went in," said Heindel, a senior captain with eight goals and 14 assists.
Spurred by the early lead, the Bulldogs dominated Somerville and gained a huge edge on restarts. Haddonfield junior goalie Frances Nicoletti registered zero saves in the first half as the defense continually cleared the ball, mostly with their feet. From the sideline, however, Haddonfield coach Glenn Guess chided them about their air game - they weren't leaping to use their heads to clear or advance the ball.
"The air game was one of the things we talked about at the half," Guess said. "We said that we had to challenge them more."
It took the Pioneers 1:10 into the second half to tie the score. Danielle Lella, a senior midfielder, broke free near the net and fired left to right on Nicoletti as the Bulldogs' defense appeared to break down on the shot. The defense had been swarmed by Somerville from the start of the half.
"We came out flat in the second half," Guess said. "I was upset by that goal. They [the Pioneers] had no offense in the first half.
"But it was a wake-up call. We'd scored a little too early in the first half, although we still played well. Our game got better [after Somerville scored]."
One reason for the Bulldogs' bouncing back was the play of Maggie Lupinski. The junior forward-midfielder spotted a scoring opportunity, took it, and broke the tie for a 2-1 lead with 21:50 remaining.
"I cut back and got off a left-footed shot from about 18 yards out," said Lupinski, Haddonfield's leading scorer with 21 goals and 12 assists. "For my left foot, it had a lot of power.
"I didn't think that I played that well in the first half. When they scored in the second half, we realized that we had to pick it up."
About a minute after Lupinski's goal, Heindel registered her second of the night on a feed from Natalie Dickson, a senior captain and midfielder with 11 goals and 13 assists this season.
Guess said that the Bulldogs' air game improved after Somerville scored, and he gave Lupinski a verbal pat on the back.
"They did a nice job [marking] on her. She may be quiet for a while, but she will always get that goal," Guess said.
Somerville 0 1 - 1
Haddonfield1 2 - 3
Goals: S-Danielle Lella. H-Jill Heindel 2, Maggie Lupinski.
Saves: S-Kara Lazauskas, 5. H-Frances Nicoletti, 3.
Contact suburban staff writer Bill Iezzi at 856-779-3826 or email@example.com.