RANDOLPH _ It's not easy to beat the same team three times in a season or twice in four days. However, Randolph found a way to achieve both feats with a 2-1 triumph over Morris Knolls on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Freshman Karen Hull scored twice, including the gamewinner in the 60th minute, to lift Randolph to 7-3.
Sophomore Gabby Lara fired a first half goal off a direct kick in the 31st minute for Morris Knolls (5-5-1).
Three of the Golden Eagles' losses have come at the hands of the Rams. Morris Knolls suffered 2-1 losses to Randolph on Sept. 12, Oct. 2 in the opening round of the Morris County Tournament and Oct. 5.
"Both teams know each other's weaknesses and strengths so it is harder (to play them) in that respect," defensive midfielder Alyssa DiGidio said. "We really wanted to come up with another win. They wanted to come out and beat us as well. It was a battle."
The victory served as a confidence boost for a very young team. Randolph has seven freshmen and five sophomores on the roster and many of them see consistent playing time.
"It's definitely been a transition this year," senior back Danielle Pilla said. "With the younger team comes a lot of energy and a lot of hard work as people try to get better and prove themselves. "Other teams we've played have underestimated what we can do with such a young roster. I think through theseason we've been proving them wrong."
Randolph took the lead 14 minutes in when Hull, a talented lefty kicker, knocked in a rebound that skipped through the legs of the Morris Knolls goalkeeper Madison Somogyi.
"It was definitely a surprise," Hull said. "Ashley Chipoletti had a shot and it rebounded. I just got on the rebound. I was on the corner of the 18. The goalie was on the left corner and my shot went right through her legs."
Morris Knolls tied the game, 1-1, on a direct kick just before the half. A foul outside the box led to a free kick opportunity in front of Randolph's 3-man wall. Lara's hard righty shot went to the high left side of the goal and slipped past Randolph keeper Ellie Sciancelepore in the 31st minute.
Overall, the Rams controlled the balance of play, won 50-50 battles and put pressure on the Golden Eagles' backs and goalkeeper Somogyi. As a result, Randolph earned more offensive opportunities. In the 60th minute, the Rams converted one of them.
For the game-winning score, Hull was on the right corner of the box when she received the ball. She spun and got off a low shot with her left foot. It was slightly mishit but perfectly placed inside the left goalpost to make it a 2-1 game. Morris Knolls had some of its best scoring opportunities late in the contest but the Randolph defense was up to the challenge. They know with such a young, improving squad they can take nothing for granted.
"We need to stay focused and play as hard as we can because you never know when someone can come in and take the win," DiGidio said. "Young player or old player, we teach the girls that it isn't about individual play. We work as a unit. If you are a younger girl you have to step it up and keep up with all the older girls. You are here for a reason. You have to prove yourself."