July 11, 2012
Wildcats battle Valkyries to 1-1 draw
WAYNE, N.J. - The New Jersey Wildcats and North Jersey Valkyries battled to a 1-1 draw in a highly competitive match at DePaul Catholic High School, Wednesday night.
The Valkyries (7-2-2, 23 points) opened the scoring in the 58th minute on a Danielle Schulmann tally, and the Wildcats (5-2-3, 18 points) equalized in the 80th minute when recent Toms River North graduate and UNC commit Danae O'Halloran scored her first W-League goal off a Yael Averbuch corner kick.
"It was a really tight game, and it felt like one of those games where one goal would make the difference," Wildcats head coach Jim Gabarra said. "They were able to separate us in the back and score a nice goal, but I am proud of the way our team fought. Both teams played a really good brand of soccer, and it made for an exciting game for the fans."
Following a series of offensive threats from the visiting Wildcats, the Valkyries almost broke the deadlock in the 31st minute. After being able to bust through the back line on the left end, Schulmann blasted a point blank shot on target, but Wildcats goalkeeper Chante Sandiford was able to make a diving save of the attempt. In the following minute, a curler from the midfield hit the top crossbar and bounced back towards danger. Sandiford then alertly tracked down the loose ball and jumped on it before a handful of North Jersey players could close.
The Wildcats had solid play through its midfield that created some good opportunities for the offense in the opening half, but the visitors were unable to completely capitalize on their chances. In the back, defender Beth Troutman led an aggressive crew that did a nice job of recovering and forcing turnovers.
The Valkyries were able to take the lead in the 58th minute, cutting through the center of the field before a ball was placed at the feet of a streaking Schulmann. She then found a crease before one-touching the feed to establish a little bit of space in front of her. Once she felt comfortable, the North Jersey striker got set and delivered a hard strike towards the goal before Sandiford had any time to react, giving her team a 1-0 advantage.
The Wildcats aggressively turned up the tempo after that goal, and its hard work finally paid dividends in the 80th minute. Standing at the corner flag, Averbuch raised her hand before she sent a cross right in front of the far post. Before distribution arrived, midfielder Amber Brooks crashed the frame, which cleared up some room behind her. There to take advantage of the opening was O'Halloran, who quickly gathered her balance while falling backward and redirected an equalizing side volley into the back of the net.
The Wildcats return to action on Thursday evening at Saint John Vianney High School in Holmdel, hosting the New Jersey Rangers in its 2012 home finale.