DiElmo, Cahill Lift Pinelands Soccer to Third Victory

Sep 19, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Sunni DiElmo fires a shot toward the goal in the first half of the Pinelands Regional girls soccer team 3-1 victory over Central on Sept. 17.

One of Alex Hanna’s shots smashed off the crossbar. One of Aileen Cahill’s shots sailed wide to the left. Sunni DiElmo sent several shots everywhere but on goal, before getting a one-touch opportunity on a cross from Cahill – it was delivered right into the hands of the goalkeeper.

That’s the summary of how the first half went for the Pinelands Regional girls soccer team on Sept. 17.

“We just had to keep playing and doing what we do,” DiElmo said after she scored twice during the second half to lead the Wildcats to a 3-1 victory over Central Regional. “We played kind of sloppy in the first half. We started off slow and got behind. And later on, we dominated the midfield and had a lot of opportunities to score, but we just didn’t finish.”

After the Golden Eagles scored just 2½ minutes into the contest, the Wildcats woke up and immediately started applying pressure to the Central defense. Still, Pinelands wasn’t connecting well on most of its passes and the offense had little rhythm.

“We weren’t playing the ball quickly enough. We weren’t connecting on our passes, and we weren’t using the width of the field as much as we should have,” said head coach Dawn Paget, whose Wildcats are 3-1-1 to start the season. “We have a couple of new outside midfielders, and some of the girls are still getting adjusted to their roles. We need to become more consistent. And that will come with experience.”

After another slow start during the first 10 minutes of the second half, Pinelands’ midfielders and forwards finally started to click, the defense tightened up and then the goals arrived.

With 27:37 left, DiElmo ran onto a ball pushed up the right side by Hanna, dribbled the ball into the right side of the penalty area, slowed her pace slightly as the defender peeled off a bit, and then fired a sharp-angle shot into the far corner of the goal, tying the contest at 1-1.

Just over a minute later, DiElmo swiped the ball from a Central midfielder about 40 yards from goal, carried into the penalty area before cutting to her right and leaving a defender behind. DiElmo took two more steps and delivered a strike toward the left corner. The keeper got a hand on the ball but it shot into the upper corner of the net for a 2-1 lead.

With about nine minutes to go, DiElmo played the ball to the left side, where Cahill zipped by a defender and got to the ball on the run, cut back toward the center of the field and utilized the five yards of space in front of her, before blasting a shot from 23 yards into the upper right corner.

“We just had to keep working hard,” Cahill said. “Our shots weren’t hitting the goal in the first half, but we had to keep making our way to the net.”

Against Jackson Liberty on Sept. 14, Pinelands keeper Brenna DeVoe was the star of the contest with nine saves, as the Wildcats received a goal from DiElmo off an assist from Marlee Tharp.

During a 5-2 victory over Lacey in the Wildcats’ first Shore Conference Class B South matchup of the season on Sept. 11, Cahill scored three times and freshman Bridget Dudas added two more. DiElmo gave out two assists and freshman Karlie Pomponio delivered another.

In the first week, Pinelands didn’t score during a 1-0 loss and scoreless tie against a pair of A South squads – Jackson Memorial and Toms River East.

“We have some seniors, but we’re still a young team, with a lot of young players starting,” Paget said. “But we’re going to keep getting tested. What our young girls have to realize is this is varsity soccer. The pace is quicker. It’s more physical. The game’s different and they have to play at a higher level.

“But right now things are progressing nicely. They’re all getting along and things are started to jell. They’re starting to play as a unit, and that’s what we need to keep winning.”

— David Biggy


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