Hayes led a great team effort from the Wildcats.
Wildcats Striker Scores Four Goals and an Assist in Victory
Forward Maya Hayes found the goal four times for the New Jersey Wildcats (2-1-2, 5 points) on Saturday afternoon, also adding an assist to the stat sheet in a 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Rangers (1-3-0, 3 points) at Morris Catholic High School. Also netting goals for the Wildcats in the match were forward Andrea Lopez and midfielder Amber Brooks, who both contributed heavily to what was a great collective team effort.
The Rangers actually struck first in this match in the 15th minute, with Lauren Manna chipping a ball forward where Amanda Jones was able to run under it on the left side of the penalty area. After a brief mis-hit on the back line, Manna earned a 1v1 with Wildcats goalkeeper Chante Sandiford. Before Sandiford was given the opportunity to close the gap on the run, Manna put a right foot on the ball and placed it into the far netting.
The equalizer in this match would come 14 minutes later after Wildcats midfielder Yael Averbuch collected a ball and sent it over to Hayes, who immediately raced towards the goal. After being able to work her way through the left side of the box, the Penn State product found some space and struck a powerful shot under Rangers netminder Hannah Steadman, making the count even at one each in the 29th minute.
Gaining momentum off the Hayes notch, the Wildcats were able to hang another pair of goals to the scoreboard in the opening half, with the next tally coming in the 38th minute. On that scoring play, Hayes gained possession on the right flank just a few steps off the near post, and she then turned and dished a ball in front of the goal to a wide open Lopez. Needing a single touch, Lopez put the feed into the back of the net, and the visiting side gained a 2-1 advantage.
The final score of the first half came right before intermission, occurring after Averbuch was able to collect the ball at the top of the key. With her back to the goal, she quickly turned and found a streaking Hayes, who took a couple touches before slotting a ball under Steadman for her second notch of the afternoon.
Hayes wasted little time in completing a hat trick once the second half got underway, scoring her third goal of the game in the 63rd minute. After receiving the ball in the midfield, she raced down the field until she saw enough room in front of her to fire a shot towards the frame. The ball came with too much velocity for substitute Rangers goalkeeper Alexandra Couzo, and the Wildcats possessed a 4-1 lead off the third Hayes tally of the match.
With the game seemingly in hand, both sides continued to play hard, and Brooks eventually added her name to the stat sheet after being taken down in the box on an aggressive run she made from the midfield. On the ensuing penalty kick, she calmly stepped over the ball and struck it into the right netting to make it a 5-1 count for the Wildcats.
The final goal of this outing came in the 87th minute on a scoring play that started at the feet of defender Taylor Mims. Patiently holding her line to make sure she was still onsides, Brooks was the recipient of an overhead pass from Mims, and she sped forward before sending a ball through the Rangers back line in front of a racing Hayes. After touching the ball around a diving Couzo, Hayes easily booted a right footed strike into the net for her fourth goal of the afternoon, hanging the final 6-1 count for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats will now return home to TCNJ in Ewing on Wednesday, June 6th, hosting the 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.