NJ Wildcats Suffer First Loss of Season

Jess Fuccello scored a stoppage time goal for the Wildcats.

Virginia Beach Hands Wildcats a 4-1 Defeat

The New Jersey Wildcats (2-1-1, 7 points) were unable to really get it going on Saturday afternoon, suffering a 4-1 result to the Virginia Beach Piranhas (2-1-1, 7 points) at Saint John Vianney High School in Holmdel. However, the Wildcats did battle for the entirety of the 90-minute match, showing resilience to earn an eventual stoppage time goal from the team’s leading point scorer Jess Fuccello.

After some even back-and-forth action got this game underway, Virginia Beach struck for the first time in the 26th minute. On the scoring play, forward Shan Jones broke loose in the middle of the field before finding some space from about 25 yards out. Once finding the room, she then paused and booted a right-footed shot that Wildcats goalkeeper Sage Dovale was able to touch, but the momentum of the strike carried the ball off her hand and into the goal.

The rest of the scoring in this match occurred in the second half, first with the Piranhas dealing back-to-back notches in the 50th and 52nd minutes. On the 50th minute tally, striker Esther Anyanwu carried the ball on the right side of the box before turning towards the middle and seeing Jones open on the left side of the penalty area, even with the far post. Anyanwu then distributed a feed towards her, and Jones quickly settled and tapped it into the back netting to make it 2-0 in favor of her side.

Before New Jersey had a chance to regroup, Virginia Beach made it 3-0 just two minutes later. On that play, midfielder Lauren Lover had possession on the right flank and sent a cross into the middle of the penalty area. The ball was well-placed for fellow midfielder Ashley Braam, who positioned herself and headed it into the back of the net.

The Wildcats created a good scoring opportunity in the 62nd minute, with midfielder Lucy Goffe feeding Fuccello a running ball on the left flank. After receiving the feed, Fuccello turned towards the goal and hammered a hard shot that ricocheted off the top crossbar. The ball then deflected back in her direction, and Fuccello quickly fired a follow-up shot that sailed just high of the frame.

The 83rd minute of this game would see the final tally for the Piranhas, with forward Nkese Udoh catching an aggressive Dovale coming off her line. Udoh took a couple touches to lure Dovale to the top of the penalty area and then hooked up Anyanwu with a sharp pass, and the forward chipped a shot over the head of Dovale to hang a four-goal differential on the stat sheet.

Showing much will and resilience, the Wildcats fought hard to erase its zero on the scoreboard, and the efforts were rewarded in the 91st minute. Defender Jackie Cajigal sent a nicely struck feed to Fuccello on the scoring play, and the Penn graduate ran down the right side of the box once acquiring the ball. Fuccello then raced forward before stopping to briefly freeze Virginia Beach netminder Lauren Vetock, and she quickly fired a shot to the far left post that was out of the reach of the outstretched goalkeeper. With the notch, the Wildcats got on the board in what soon after became a 4-1 result.

The Wildcats look to rebound on Sunday afternoon when the team travels to Long Island to play the Rough Riders at 3:00 p.m. The next home match for New Jersey is on Saturday, June 22nd, when it hosts the New York Magic at 3:00 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.

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