MIDDLETOWN All 80 minutes of the Class A regional final between Byram Hills and Section 9’s Goshen were played Saturday at Middletown, but the game’s most important play occurred less than five minutes in.
Jada Stewart finished a pass from Kacie Borisewich inside the five-yard box in the fourth minute in the Gladiators’ 1-0 win over the Bobcats.
“I think we just let down for one second and they took advantage,” Byram Hills sophomore Carly Barnett said.
The sluggish start proved costly for the Bobcats. Byram Hills possessed the ball a majority of the second half, but couldn’t secure an equalizer. The Bobcats outshot Goshen 14-6 in the game.
“In the second half we really took it up a notch and bumped up our style of play and what we were doing,” Byram Hills’ coach Mike Martino said. “It’s just a little too late, and that was it.”
The Bobcats had their opportunities in the second half, but weren’t able to get any through balls past the Gladiators’ back line for a quality chance at a goal.
Martino said it wasn’t a matter of his team not executing properly. He credited Goshen’s defense for standing tall in the final 40 minutes.
“We were looking for those balls that usually get through,” Martino said. “Just that one ball to nick of somebody’s head or nick off somebody’s thigh or foot. It just didn’t come today.”
The loss ends one of the most successful Byram Hills’ seasons in program history. The Bobcats won a state playoff game in their first trip to the state tournament this season.
“I think it’s going to give us confidence for the future,” Barnett said. “To say we did it already, and we can do it again.”
Byram Hills will certainly have the pieces to make another run at a sectional and state title. The Bobcats graduate only three seniors, Annabel Stanley, Kacy Fishman and Marissa Miller, from their 2013 squad.
Martino said he hopes the younger players learned a lot from the graduating seniors, all of who were captains, and will be able to implement it into next season.
It was clear that, even minutes after the loss, the goals for next season have already been set.
“We want to take this loss as a motivation for next year, so we make it to states next year,” Byram Hills’ junior captain Raquel Gaudio said. “This is all we wanted…We’re going to come out even stronger next year.”
Stanley had some words of wisdom for her teammates as they watched the Gladiators celebrate with the regional title plaque following the win.
“That needs to be you girls next year.”