RANDOLPH _ Whatever the Randolph girls soccer team was doing to generate offense in the first half of its game against Montville just wasn't working. The Rams had to take a different approach in the second half in order to advance in the Morris County Tournament.
Freshman Amber Jacobsen's score in the second half was just enough to advance seventh-seeded Randolph in a 1-0 triumph over Montville in opening round play on Sunday, Oct. 4.
Senior goalkeeper Rachel Fennel posted a shutout on four saves for the Rams (5-4-1). Randolph faces second-seeded Roxbury, a 3-0 winner over Parsippany Hills, in quarterfinal-round play next week. The 10th-seeded Mustangs drop to 8-4.
Randolph coach Colleen Suflay saw too many potential scoring opportunities pass the Rams by in the first half and brought it to the attention of her players. They would have to change tactics and bring a bit more attitude into their effort.
"Moving forward we are going to have to work on finding the goal and finishing our chances," senior forward Esther Wellman said. "We did have opportunities on top of the goal, in the front of the frame. We just didn't finish our chances."
In the first half, the Rams created opportunities just outside the penalty area, but they weren't as dangerous as they could have been. Instead of launching shots from deep, they needed to become a little more aggressive in attacking the goal. They were making Montville keeper Victoria Scarrat's job too easy.
"At halftime, we talked about (Montville's) keeper and that she wasn't someone that we could float balls into," Wellman said. "She was good at picking up things that were floating in the box. We really had to make sure that we were driving in closer to goal and ripping shots."
Jacobsen, a freshman, solved that. Her goal in the 64th minute was off a deflection in the penalty area that was initiated from a throw in. She drilled in a shot from the left side from about five yards out. It was her third goal of the year.
"In a split second, I saw that there was an open side on the right side of the net," Jacobsen said. "I just shot it with my right foot. I just wanted to vary it. It went low."
There is no reason for Randolph not to generate a more varied offensive attack. They have one of the more talented junior playmakers in the county when Ashley Chipoletti has the ball. However, she knocked heads with a player midway through the contest and, although she returned later, she might not have been at the top of her game.
"She has developed a lot from her freshman year," Wellman said. "She has been scoring a lot of goals for us. She is very important to our team. She is great when the ball is at her feet. She makes things happen."
It has been an up-and-down year for the Rams, who shared the MCT title with Roxbury last year. A poor performance in a loss against Parsippany Hills ruined their chances of getting a high seed. What has been a constant has been their defensive effort, which keeps the Rams in games against any opponent. Seniors Victoria Mattson and Rachel Kral, junior Danielle Pilla and freshman Maddie Pokorny give opposing attackers a rough time if they venture near the net.
"It's rock solid usually," Wellman said. "We have great competitors. The defense has been getting the job done, making tackles and really holding our team together."
Randolph is well aware of its well-earned reputation as one of the best girls soccer programs in the county. They certainly believe a deep county run is still possible, but to accomplish that they have to create better chances and finish them.
"We prefer to be the higher seed but we are going to take what we got and get after it," Wellman said. "Our legacy is that we've gotten to the finals (nearly) every year. We are not resting on our legacy. We are ready to get after it. That's what is motivating us."