by Caroline Baldwin
The Lady Blue Devils put up a heartfelt battle in the semi-final county game against undefeated Cranford last Saturday night at ALJ. Despite their effort, the game ended in a tough loss of 3–1.
Said Head Coach Alex Schmidt: “All year we’ve been improving and getting better each game, but last night we hit a roadblock. And hit it hard. Cranford plays 12 seniors, and their experience in the big game was the difference.”
With six girls out due to injuries, LBD had to switch things up a bit.
According to Co-Captain Mary Randazzo, in the last two weeks alone, two players have torn and re-torn ACLs. Senior Jenna Helfand said, “It’s been tough with all the injuries that have happened, but luckily our team has a lot of talented players, we have a lot of depth on our team.”
With 20:25 remaining in the first half, junior Judy McDonald was knocked down, assisted off the field and did not return to the game again. Said senior Gianna DeVito, “We knew it was going to be a challenging game because we’re a very young team and knew they’d come out strong but we weren’t expecting how physical they were.”
In a surprising moment,WHS fans were fooled when Randazzo took a free kick which appeared to deflect off the crossbar and bounce in, causing the Westfield fans to erupt in cheers. But the ball bounced off the football goal post instead, which is considered out of bounds.
Freshman goalie Lizzie Brucia made diving saves left and right; the only two goals scored by Cranford found the back of the net above her head.
Things turned around quickly after halftime as LBD brought the heat. Said Randazzo, “We ultimately went into the second half with the mindset of leaving everything out on the field because we had nothing to lose.”
With 25 minutes left in the second half, freshman Hannah Liddy sent the ball DeVito’s way. DeVito drilled the ball from the top left of the 18-yard box and the ball soared into the top right corner, advancing the score 2–1.Said DeVito, “It was a team effort and I was really proud of everyone because we started to play our game after that.”
LBD has three games remaining in their regular season and will then compete in the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 state tournament starting Nov. 4, where they are seeded second behind SPF.Randazzo said: “We have no time to dwell upon Saturday’s loss. We must fix what needs to be fixed and move on. We are now focused on the state tournament and finishing out the remaining part of our season strong.”