By LESLEY GRAHAM
The Ocean City girls soccer team started off the South Jersey Coaches Tournament on the right foot, with a victory over conference foe Egg Harbor Township, 4-1.
Ocean City entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, which pitted the Red Raiders against the Eagles of EHT at the No. 14 seed.
The South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament ranks the top 16 programs in all of South Jersey, regardless of group size, and is utilized as a tune-up to the state tournament, which will begin Oct. 28.
Scoring for the Red Raiders were Summer Reimet with three goals and Hannah Keane with one. Faith Slimmer had two assists, while Delaney Lappin added one.
Ocean City dominated the possession for most of the game, allowing the Eagles only a few opportunities on net.
The Red Raiders spent the majority of the first half in their offensive third, where the Eagles goalkeeper had some brilliant saves.
Ocean City didn’t panic with the score still knotted at zero late in the first half. They continued their strategic approach to passing and spreading the field, which led to a late goal with under 1:30 to play in the half.
Faith Slimmer passed the ball into Hannah Keane with the finish.
“It felt good to get that goal in before halftime. It was a better environment at halftime,” said Ocean City head coach Kelly Halliday.
As the second half started, Ocean City began right where it had left off. With less than five minutes played in the second half, the Red Raiders utilized a misstep by an EHT defender to allow Faith Slimmer to once again feed a ball into the box, this time for Summer Reimet to finish.
EHT wasn’t about to let the game slip away and less than 10 minutes later, the Eagles tallied their lone goal to bring the game within one.
The Red Raiders once again did not show signs of panic as they continued to follow the game plan.
With just under 12 minutes remaining, Ocean City was awarded a corner kick with a header shot on the goal that rebounded out to Summer Reimet, who found the back of the net for the second time.
To complete her hat trick, Reimet would score off an assist from Delaney Lappin to secure the win for the Red Raiders.
“I was proud of our work ethic and effort out there. Our center midfielders, Carly Reighard and Hope Slimmer, really kept the game in control and played well together. All of our goals were fantastic and just solid effort goals,” said Halliday of her team’s play.
As they advance into the tournament quarterfinals, the Red Raiders will face 11th seeded Williamstown on Monday at 6 p.m.
Ocean City previously defeated Williamstown this season in late September 4-0.
When asked about facing the same opponent for the second time this season, Halliday said Ocean City will focus on playing its style of soccer.
“We take no opponent lightly. It’s hard to beat a team twice, so we plan on worrying about ourselves first and foremost,” said Halliday. “Happy with the work ethic.”