BEARDEN — Although being played on the Bearden pitch, Tuesday night’s District 2-AAA tournament soccer match between Morristown West and Bearden often seemed like it should have been played across the street at the Bearden football stadium.
Both teams played with physicality that kept the head referee on his toes, and the match saw a yellow card and a penalty in the box. Bearden, who came into the match without a loss, tried to impose their will on Morristown West, but the Lady Trojans did not back down.
However, despite sizing up with the Lady Bulldogs, Morristown West could not keep up and get an offensive game going as they fell 3-nil to end their season.
“I am super proud of these girls,” Morristown West coach Jennifer Murphy said. “I don’t know what Bearden thought before but, after this game, I think they’re thinking differently about Morristown West now. We put up a good fight, and they’ll remember us.”
Bearden came out of the gate firing against the Lady Trojans but failed to find the net early.
The Lady Bulldogs outshot Morristown West in the match 15-4.
However, the back line for the Lady Trojans, led by Zoie Shepard, and goalkeeper Riley Menees kept Morristown West in the match. Menees had 10 saves.
“We talked about the mistakes we made last time, and they (the defense) cleaned that up,” Murphy said. “The penalty at the end was a frustration foul, but I thought we played well in the back.”
Despite just the four shots in the match, the Lady Trojans saw the first real chances of the match a little over 10 minutes in. In the 12th minute, Caitlyn Grimaldi had a shot saved and then, two minutes later, the Lady Trojans had two more chances but could not find the back of the net.
That was all the wake up call that Bearden needed as, two minutes later, Abby Brewer struck for Bearden to put them up 1-0. Brewer doubled the lead nine minutes later.
Morristown West tried to close the gap with chances from Emily Spain and Isabella Carattini, but good saves kept the Lady Trojans out of the net.
That was all the chances that Morristown West would have in the match as they totaled one shot in the second half.
“We had her out of the goal twice and, by the grace of God, she saved that one,” Murphy said. “But she’s a smart keeper. Being a former keeper, I watched her positioning, and she is smart. I just wish we had been smarter.”
With four minutes remaining in the match, Bearden sealed the game after a hard foul in the box resulted in a penalty that was put in the back of the net to make it 3-0.
“I told them before the game to not come off the field with any what if’s and my what if is ‘what if we had played like this all season,’” Murphy said. “I hate that it happened at the end of the season, but I am super proud of these girls and their fight.”