It’s getting to the point, now, where the Hudson County Girls’ Soccer Tournament might just need to be renamed the Lady Kards Annual County Soccer Championship.
That’s because for the seventh time in as many years as the tournament has existed, the now 16-3 Kardinals won it all Saturday afternoon at Harrison High School, this time by a 1-0 score over Bayonne High School.
Senior Amber Crispin scored the lone goal off a corner kick before the match was even a minute old. For the senior, remarkably, it was her 30th goal of the season. Crispin took the ball on what coach Vin Almeida called “an incredible pass from Sydney Pace.”
“It was a perfect ball,” Almeida said. “She sent it over to Amber and then Amber had a few touches and then she scored.”
Having a 1-0 lead less than a minute into the match is something Almeida says helped tremendously the rest of the way.
“To score that early, it really eases things,” the eight-year coach said. “We were expecting a lot of chances after that, and though we didn’t score again, we had chances. Having such an early lead and having that kind of lead throughout could have been difficult, but instead, it really opened things up for us.”
Playing from in front for so long, Almeida says it really helped to limit Bayonne High School’s chances for the most part.
“But they really did play so hard,” Almeida said. “They’re a great team and they had a few chances, but we were really able to limit them — and that worked in our favor.”
On the other end of the pitch, goalie Megan McClelland had three saves for the Kards.
While Almeida says the unprecedented seventh-consecutive Hudson County Championship was indeed a great team effort, he did note how special it’s been all season long to have such a prolific goal scorer as he has in Crispin.
“She really brought everything together this season,” the coach said. “In all aspects of the sport — mental focus, her play on the field. She was just outstanding.”
For Almeida person ally, the championship is his own seventh-in-a-row also. He says it was absolutely gratifying to win the tournament again, something he’s done since its inception in 2009. “It really feels great,” Almeida said. “I consider myself very lucky to have had such nice groups of players. We work very hard as a [coaching] staff to prepare the girls as best as we can. But as you know, it’s all up to the girls to go out and execute. So far, that’s exactly what they’ve done.”
But this is hardly the end of the line for the Kardinals.
They’ve got one more regular-season match against one-loss Somerville this week. And on Monday, they’ll kick off their quest for a state championship.
“We’ll know for sure by Wednesday [Oct. 28] who we play in the first round of the state tournament,” Almeida said. “So we do have more work ahead of us. I am very proud to be the coach of this team.”
With seven Hudson County championships in as many years under his belt, how could Almeida be anything but proud of such a remarkable accomplishment?
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.