VOORHEES >> Those fans who were in attendance were telling Megan Boland afterward they thought it was the game of the season in South Jersey high school girls soccer.
Still, that assessment didn’t make the 2-1 double overtime playoff loss to Eastern sting any less for the four-year Cherokee coach.
“We should ’a had it (the win)!” said Boland a few hours after her team’s season ended Nov. 20 in the NJSIAA South West D semifinals. “We had more legit chances to score and missed by a hair each time - just didn’t bounce our way.”
Junior Katie Fricker didn’t miss when she was in the right place at the right time in the 15th minute to give the five-seeded Chiefs a 1-0 advantage.
Fricker’s team-leading 10th goal of the season was a thing of beauty as the junior converted a rebound from sophomore Olivia Marrone’s lazer shot from just outside the 18-yard box that went off the crossbar. Fricker’s header went past Eastern junior goalie Alex Clark and into the back of the net.
Boland couldn’t say enough about the performance of her keeper – sophomore Kailyn Roselli – who was sensational with 13 saves to her credit.
“Kailyn had great game,” said Boland. “Kailyn saved a Riley Tiernan penalty kick with about two minutes in the first overtime. Enough said. In my opinion, she’s the best keeper in South Jersey.”
Roselli’s save total was just one off her season-high when she turned away 14 in Cherokee’s 2-1 win at Rancocas Valley Oct. 24.
Cherokee held the slim one-goal lead for about 30 minutes against the top-seeded and defending two-time South Jersey Group 4 champion Vikings.
Eastern junior Cami Silvestro got the equalizer with her 13th tally of the season in the 45th minute. Haley Marsden was credited with the helper on the play.
Boland said her team left it all on the field against the state’s top-ranked team, which the Chiefs have now lost 14 in a row dating back to 2015.
Coincidentally, Cherokee’s last win over Eastern came in double overtime as well. Shaye McGoey’s goal (assist Leah Reistle), combined with seven saves from goalies Ava Therien (5) and Zarre Baldwin (2), led the Chiefs to a 1-0 victory over the visiting Vikings in the fourth game of the season Sept. 18, 2015.
“We played with heart and for each other,” said Boland, who is 0-8 against Eastern in her tenure. “It just didn’t bounce our way today.”
The Chiefs had a golden opportunity to come away with the upset early in the first extra 10-minute period.
“We had an open volley that went right over the bar by Aly Mascolo off of an Arianna Sparrow corner about two minutes into the first overtime,” said Boland.
Cherokee may have left Voorhees on the losing side of the score, but the Chiefs have nothing hang their heads about.
What was Boland’s message to the team after the heart-breaker?
“That they executed everything that we implemented and more,” she said. “Our girls left it all out there and didn’t go down without a fight. We are so proud of them.”
Boland added: “Ari Sparrow was lights out today, along with Kailyn. Abby Kulinski completely shut down Sydney (Ritter) with her man-marking. Janelle (Deveney) had Riley. My whole team just played so well, but just shows when you have fire power like Riley you can stay in any game.”
Tiernan, to no one’s surprise, broke Cherokee’s hearts and ended this instant classic when she scored her team-leading 15th goal with 6:07 left in the second overtime.”
“Riley beat (our) defender one-on-one and finished side panel far post,” said Boland. “It was the first time all game we failed to back up with a double team.
In listening to Boland, it is clear she has immense pride in the 2020 squad, as well as the Cherokee soccer program as a whole.
“My girls just deserve all of the credit in the world to hang with a team who has players like Riley or Sydney,” she said. “Despite losing some key seniors, we have a nice core of really young players that will bring it next year and I can’t wait.”
Ten different players scored at least one of Cherokee’s 33 goals this season. Fricker had 10 of them, followed by Sparrow with eight and senior Alexandra Fasano with four.
Senior midfielder Nadia Evola, who missed a whole year due to injury, led the team in assists with eight. “Nadia came back from an ACL injury to her left knee in her sophomore year and couldn’t play until this year,” said Boland.
Cherokee’s season opened with a scoreless tie at Lenape-district rival Lenape Oct. 2, followed by a 5-2 to visiting Eastern four days later.
The Chiefs then won five in a row and seven of the next eight games, highlighted by a 3-1 win over visiting Shawnee, regarded as one of the top teams in South Jersey at the time, Oct. 22. The only blemish during that stretch was a 2-1 loss at Paul VI Oct. 26.
Boland’s squad then notched victories in four of the next five, including a 1-0 shutout at Williamstown in a quarterfinal playoff game.
Cherokee Girls Soccer
Staff: Megan Boland, head coach; Steve Fortino, assistant coach; Devon Smojver, assistant coach (maternity leave); Bill Butler, junior varsity coach; Jackie Gsell, freshman coach.
Game-by-Game Results: Oct. 2, at Lenape, T 0-0; Oct. 6, Eastern, L 5-2; Oct. 8, Bishop Eustace, W 4-2; Oct. 14, at Winslow Township, W 6-0; Oct. 20, at Camden Catholic W 3-2; Oct. 22, Shawnee, W 3-1; Oct. 24, at Rancocas Valley, W 2-1; Oct. 26, at Paul VI, L 2-1; Oct. 28, at Cherry Hill East, W 5-3; Oct. 31, at Moorestown, W 1-0; Nov. 3, Cherry Hill West, L 3-1; Nov. 5, Seneca, W 3-1; Nov. 18, at Williamstown (NJSIAA South West D Quarterfinals) W 1-0; Nov. 20, at Eastern (NJSIAA South West D Semifinals), L 2-1.
Player Statistics (Goals, Assists): Katie Fricker, junior forward (10, 4); Arianna Sparrow, senior forward (8, 1); Alexandra Fasano, senior midfielder (4, 3); Aly Mascolo, junior midfielder (2, 4); Katie Ulmer, sophomore forward (2, 2); Chelsea Evans, junior midfielder (2, 1); Nadia Evola, senior midfielder (1, 8); Olivia Marrone, sophomore midfielder (1, 3); Janelle Deveney, senior defender (1, 1); Christina Caruso, senior midfielder (1, 0); Ailyn Rowe, freshman forward (1, 0); Gianna D’Eustachio, senior defender (0, 1); Izzy Decker, senior defender (0, 1); Nicole Edelman, freshman defender (0, 1); Abigail Kulinski, sophomore defender (0, 1).
Goalie Statistics: Kailyn Roselli, sophomore, 88 saves (3 shutouts); Jada Branford, freshman, 2, Kathryn Caminske, senior, 1.