The Holmdel NJX Celtic U10 Girls captured the 2012 US Club Soccer New Jersey Cup championship on Sunday, May 13th at Mercer County Park. The New Jersey Cup championship is a single elimination tournament open to all US Club soccer teams throughout the state of New Jersey. The tournament takes place over a two month period.
Winning a state cup title is perhaps the most coveted prize in New Jersey soccer, and is a rare accomplishment for any travel soccer club or academy.
The NJX Celtics won five consecutive games against top clubs and academy teams from the State of NJ. The Celtic were often considered the underdogs to win these matches but they battled and continued to advance.
- First Round (Saturday, Mar 17th): 8-2 over Cranford Sparx at home
- Second Round (Sunday, April 15th): 5-3 over South Jersey Barons at home
- Quarterfinal (Thursday, April 26th): 2-1 over PDA Storm at PDA
The semis and finals on Mother's Day Sunday featured contributions from all Celtic players. A true statement of how a collective and collaborative team can overcome long odds. The Celtic girls embraced the NJX philosophy of getting all players forward and creating scoring chances from all parts of the field. They played unselfishly and cover and balance defended in exceptional fashion limiting the opponent's full chances. When there were strikes at goal, the Celtic keeper, Kelly Lambertson, stood up beautifully.
In the semi-final game verse Rage, Celtic found themselves in a 0-1 deficit but quickly answered back off a very smart quick throw-in by Meli Pekmezian to teammate Kate Leturgez who buried the ball in the back of the net. But the even score did not last long as Rage sent a long shot into the goal and Celtic found themselves down 1-2 at halftime.
The team refused to give up and put constant pressure on the Rage defense. They found the tying goal in an amazing header from Ranya Senhaji off a huge throw-in from Erin Gilfillan.
The regulation game ended in a 2-2 tie and the team then played two five minute overtime periods.
At the end of the overtime periods, the game remained tied up at 2-2 and the young Celtic team found themselves in their first ever penalty kick shoot out. Five Celtic players were chosen for the best out of five shootout.
The young players remained calm and kept their cool.
Celtic defender Kate Cook was the first player to shoot and buried her shot into the back. Rage tried to follow it up with a shot of their own but Celtic goalie, Kelly Lambertson, made an amazing, diving save.
The first round 1-0 lead set the tone for the team.
The next 3 Celtic shooters - Ranya Senhaji, Kate Leturgez and Laila Rosenthal - all successfully placed their penalty kicks into the back of the net while Lambertson made another fantastic diving save. Celtic was advancing to the State Cup Finals!
In the Final Game verse a very strong Jefferson Lady Falcon team, Celtic came out a bit flat and were on their heels for the first few minutes. Then they found a spark and the goals started flowing.
Ranya Senhaji connected with Lulu Lyle on the first goal of the game. Great hustle by Lulu Lyle to get to a heavily contested ball in the box.
The next two goals were scored by some sweet assists from Bryn Radvanski from the left midfield to the Celtic power forward Ranya Senhaji.
The fourth goal was an own goal by Jefferson upon heavy pressure on loose balls around the box by Kristen Battista and Kiera Diamond.
Jefferson answered back with a goal right before halftime. Celtic led 4-1 at the half. After the start of the second half, Celtic added yet another goal off a long ball from center back Erin Gilfillan to Meli Pekmezian who finished it off nicely. Final score Celtic 5-2 over Jefferson Lady Falcons.
In both semi-final and final game, the Celtic team defense stood strong against constant pressure. Keeper Kelly Lambertson made extraordinary saves in key moments of both games The back line of Claudia Satzke, Kate Cook, Erin Gilfillan and Morgan Hovan successfully shielded off relentless attacks.
Defense was a true team effort with continuous support from the Celtic midfield and forwards. It was a true team victory and a memory of a lifetime created on Mother's Day at Mercer Country Park for all involved.
The NJX Celtic is coached by Colleen Cook, Rich Pekmezian and Terry Downs. The team will be adding a few more players to their roster as they prepare to go full sided in the Fall. Anyone interested in trying out for the team can contact Colleen Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.