The Wildcats caught heat under humid conditions in the 2013 season opening match.
Team Notches Four Goals in Opening Half, Defeat Valkyries by a Tally of 4-2
Humid conditions surrounded Lions Stadium at The College of New Jersey on Wednesday night, and the host New Jersey Wildcats (1-0-0, 3 points) caught some fire of its own in the opening match of its 2013 USL W-League season. The Wildcats rallied for four first half goals over the visiting North Jersey Valkyries (0-1-0, 0 points) before turning to a defensive mindset in the second half, earning a 4-2 victory and three critical points against its Northeast Division foe.
The Wildcats opened up the scoring in this encounter in just the 11th minute of play, starting off a crafty possession from midfielder Claudia Vasquez of the Puerto Rican National Team. After acquiring the ball on the left flank near the center circle, Vasquez looked upfield and delivered a well-placed strike onto the feet of a streaking Jess Fuccello. The UPenn graduate then one-touched the ball forward and raced through a hole in the North Jersey defense to find herself all alone in front of Valkyries netminder Lianne Maldanado. Once seeing the situation, she chipped the ball over the head of Maldanado to give her team an early 1-0 advantage.
15 minutes later, Fuccello put herself on the other side of the stat sheet, hooking up fellow striker Daija Griffin in the right zone of the penalty area. Once gaining possession, the speedy Piscataway native turned on the jets and continued driving to that side. She then quickly stopped on a dime, which froze Maldanado, wasting no time in firing a right-footed shot into the wide side netting to make it 2-0 for the Wildcats.
North Jersey was then able to respond in the 28th minute, with midfielder Ashley Clarke breaking through the left side of the Wildcats box before feeding forward to early substitute Danielle Schulmann. The crafty striker then maneuvered herself around New Jersey goalkeeper Sage Dovale with the ball at her feet, making it to where she could easily tap in a goal with her left foot.
Despite the three goals in the first 30 minutes of this match, the first half scoring was still far from over. First, Griffin made some room towards the top of the box in the 42nd minute before quickly turning to find Fuccello. The New Jersey native then touched around a defender and fired a hard shot towards the far post that ripped into the netting, making it 3-1 in favor of the host side. 31st minute substitute Samantha McDonough later extended that lead to 4-1 in the waning seconds of the half, registering a stoppage time tally. After distribution came from Vasquez, she gained possession from deep out and caught Maldanado overcommitting to the long ball she received. Seeing the opportunity in front of her, McDonough quickly chipped a ball over the opposing netminder’s head, and the Wildcats were holding a 4-1 advantage when the two sides broke for intermission.
Only one goal was recorded in the second half, and it was done at the feet of the visiting Valkyries. After earning a free kick from about 30 yards out, North Jersey midfielder Nickolette Driesse stepped over the ball. Sensing a bit of an opening, Driesse then put a near perfect strike on a shot attempt, sending it over the New Jersey wall and ricocheting into the net after hitting the nearside post.
After seceding that goal to make it 4-2, the Wildcats buckled down on the defensive end of the field to make sure no more damage was done. Both sides turned up the aggression at that time as well, and a handful of yellow cards would be revealed as a result.
In the end, cooler heads prevailed, as did the host Wildcats. When the final whistle blew to conclude this match, New Jersey found itself three points richer after earning a 4-2 victory.
Next up for the Wildcats is a road outing on Saturday, June 1st, when the team travels to Virginia Beach to play the Piranhas and then the Fredericksburg Impact the following day. The next home match for New Jersey is on Saturday, June 8th, when it hosts the Piranhas at 2:00 p.m. at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel. Tickets for all Wildcats home matches are now available and can be attained by calling 732-298-7619. Individual game tickets as well as team and family packages are available.