Jersey girls spark East win in All-America game

MVPs Samantha Johnson (left) and Schuyler DeBree

MVPs Samantha Johnson (left) and Schuyler DeBree

When Caroline Chagares’ well-struck shot found the lower left corner of the goal, Tara Madigan leaped into the air and a chorus of “Sweet Caroline” rang out from a group of teen girls in the stands.

The irony of the situation was a topic for some good-natured postgame ribbing after the New Jersey-led East squad defeated the West 2-0 in the 2013 Girls High School All-American Game played at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday.

Chagares hails from Ramapo (Franklin Lakes, N.J.), the archrival of Northern Highlands (Allendale, N.J.), which is coached by Madigan. Madigan served as coach of the East All-American team. As for the teen girls in the stands — those where other Northern Highlands players who were in the Raleigh area for a club tournament over the weekend and took time to attend the All-American contest.

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“I don’t know if I’ve ever cheered for a goal by [Chagares] before,” Madigan said with a laugh after the contest.

2013 East Team All-American Game participants.

2013 East Team All-American Game participants.

There were smiles all around as the first All-America girls soccer match in nearly a decade drew to a close on a chilly Saturday afternoon. The forecasted rain held off, but temperatures hovered around 45 degrees as 43 fall-playing seniors had one final chance to showcase their skills as high school players.

The East vs. West team titles were merely a label for what was more of a Northeast vs. the rest-of-the-country contest, and the New Jersey players delivered. Colby Ciarrocca of Montgomery (Skillman, N.J.) converted a penalty kick for a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the second half after getting taken down in the box, Chagares netted the clincher with 16:35 left and defender Schuyler DeBree of Rumson-Fair Haven (Rumson, N.J.) was named East MVP after the shutout was recorded.

Samantha Johnson, an uncommitted senior from La Cueva (Albuquerque, N.M.), was named the West MVP.

Johnson kept the East scoreless through the first half, which included a point-blank save late in the half.

2013 West Team All-American Game participants.

2013 West Team All-American Game participants.

The East broke the scoreless contest after some nice combination work. Carissima Cutrona of Williamsville South (Williamsville, N.Y.) worked a give-and-go with Kelly Novak of Strongsville (Strongsville, Ohio), and the play left Cutrona alone on the right sideline. She took on a defender before sending a low pass toward the top of the penalty box. Katie Stames of Peoples Academy (Morrisville, Vt.) let the ball roll, and it found the feet of Ciarrocca who took a touch before being taken down, resulting in a penalty kick. Ciarocca went upper right for the first score.

Chagares capped the win by trapping a defender’s clearing attempt with her right thigh and letting the ball fall to her right foot as she turned to strike the ball. The West keeper, Catherine Schmidt of Zionsville (Zionsville, Ind.) had no chance on the shot that was perfectly placed in the lower left corner.

QUICK SHOTS:

* Among a field of high school standouts, a few stood above the rest. One of the most active players was Eva Gordon of Christian Brothers (Syracuse, N.Y.). Her speed helped her beat defenders and create several great scoring chances. Had she scored, Gordon likely would have been the East MVP since she was part of so many dangerous situations. Clare Shea of Northern Highlands, Casey Martinez of McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) and Ciarrocca created several scoring chances as the East had the better of the player.

* The West was hampered by weather and injury. Florida State commit Ari Hudson of Portland Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) never made it to the contest. Her flight was grounded in Dallas, where she was forced to spend the weekend. Penn State commit Katy Keen of Zionsville (Zionsville, Ind.) is recovering from a knee injury and was only involved in a ceremonial kickoff. She started the match and when the opening touch was sent back to her, she kicked the ball out of bounds and left the field on the designed play. During the second half, midfielder Bizzy Phillips of Alta (Sandy, Utah), who was among the West’s top performers, sustained a collarbone injury and left the contest. Late in the contest, Tayler Jamison of Twin Valley (Elverson, Pa.) also went down to injury.

* Paul Heenehan of Ramapo, the all-time winningest fall high school girls soccer coach, joked that he now could go into retirement after hearing the Northern Highlands players in the stands offer up a supporting “Paul Heenehan” chant.

* Based on the performances Saturday, it appears Syracuse has the makings of a solid recruiting class. Gordon and defender Alana O’Neill of Washingtonville (Washingtonville, N.Y.) are committed to the Orange, along with keeper Courtney Brosnan of Millburn (Millburn, N.J.) and midfielder Jessica Vigna of Howell (Farmingdale, N.J.). All four played key roles in the East victory.

The match was shown live on NSCAATV.com, and it can be viewed by visiting the site.

– Sheldon Shealer

Updated: December 8, 2013

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