Es Negron scored the first Wildcats goal in the 73rd minute.
Kristen Edmonds Nets Goal for Wildcats in Final Minute to Earn 2-2 Draw
The New Jersey Wildcats (0-0-2, 2 points) showed much will and determination at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) Lions Stadium on Wednesday evening, overcoming a two-goal halftime deficit to earn a level 2-2 draw with the North Jersey Valkyries (0-0-1, 1 point). The equalizing tally came in thrilling fashion in the 90th minute of play, with midfielder Cristina Barthel dealing a cross that was finished off by forward Kristen Edmonds.
The Valkyries got on the board first with a pair of goals in the opening half of this one, with the first notch coming in the 15th minute. On that scoring play, North Jersey midfielder Nickolette Driesse received the ball on the left flank and took a couple of steps forward after collecting the feed. Finding space in front of her, she then put a hard touch on the ball from about 30 yards out and was able to slot it past Wildcats goalkeeper Lauren Smedley. The second score came with just two minutes remaining before intermission, and it was the result of a scramble for possession in front of the Wildcats goal. Just one minute after checking into the match, Valkyries substitute Ashley Clarke was able to use her fresh legs to gather the ball amid the struggle and then fired a shot into the back of the net, giving her side a 2-0 advantage when the halftime whistle was blown.
North Jersey switched to a defensive approach in the second half, leaving just a single player on top and keeping the rest of their squad back to protect against the New Jersey attack. The Wildcats brought on a handful of substitutes during the second half to keep the pace more rapid, and the team was playing with a ton of heart and energy in front of their hometown crowd.
In the 73rd minute of play, New Jersey saw its inspired effort pay dividends after midfielder Andrea Lopez gained possession on the left flank and raced to the corner flag with the ball at her feet. Once finding some space, she then sent a well placed drive across the mouth of the goal, where a perfectly positioned Esmeralda Negron was there to pound the feed into the net and close the gap to one score, 2-1.
Sensing how close an equalizer was at this point, the Wildcats turned it up another level and aggressively attacked the Valkyries goal. Had it not been for three class saves from North Jersey netminder Katherine Courter, the game would have become level a lot sooner, but it eventually set to stage for a dramatic finish to this match. With the final minute turning on the clock, Barthel collected the ball on the right flank and made her move down the pitch. She then looked to her left and dealt a cross to the middle of the field, and awaiting the distribution was Edmonds, who had nearly scored on multiple occasions during this contest. As the ball approached her, Edmonds positioned herself and then selected the perfect time to put a hard strike on the feed. After getting a solid leg on the ball, she looked ahead and saw it fly into the goal to equalize the game at two goals each, sending the hometown crowd into an uproar.
New Jersey continued to attack in the waning moments of this match, nearly creating some more opportunities, but the final 2-2 count was still standing when the head official blew the final whistle.
Next up for the Wildcats is a pair of road pairings next week, first against the Valkyries on Wednesday before facing the Rough Riders in Long Island the following night. The team will return to TCNJ on Wednesday, June 6th, hosting the New Jersey Rangers.
Tickets for all Wildcats home matches are also now available and can be attained by calling 732-720-9163. Individual game tickets as well as team and family packages are available, and more information about the Wildcats can be found online at www.njwildcats.com.