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Wildcats Find Groove in Opener
Score four in first half, defeat Valkyries 4-2

New Jersey Wildcats News Release -

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

EWING, N.J. - Humid conditions surrounded Lions Stadium at The College of New Jersey on Wednesday night, and the host New Jersey Wildcats (1-0-0, 3 points) caught some fire of their own in the opening match of its 2013 W-League season. The Wildcats struck for four first-half goals against the visiting North Jersey Valkyries (0-1-0, 0 points) before turning to a defensive mindset in the second half, earning a 4-2 victory and three critical points against its Northeastern Conference foe.

The Wildcats opened the scoring in the 11th minute, starting off a crafty possession from midfielder Claudia Vasquez of the Puerto Rican National Team. After acquiring the ball on the left flank near the center circle, Vasquez looked upfield and delivered a well-placed strike onto the feet of a streaking Jess Fuccello. The UPenn graduate then one-touched the ball forward and raced through a hole in the North Jersey defense to find herself alone in front of Valkyries netminder Lianne Maldanado. Once seeing the situation, she chipped the ball over the head of Maldanado to give her team an early 1-0 advantage.

Fifteen minutes later, Fuccello put herself on the other side of the stat sheet, hooking up fellow striker Daija Griffin in the right zone of the penalty area. Once gaining possession, the speedy Piscataway native turned on the jets and continued driving to that side. She then quickly stopped on a dime, which froze Maldanado, wasting no time in firing a right-footed shot into the wide side netting to make it 2-0 for the Wildcats.

North Jersey was able to respond in the 28th minute, with midfielder Ashley Clarke breaking through the left side of the Wildcats box before feeding forward to early substitute Danielle Schulmann. The crafty striker then maneuvered herself around New Jersey goalkeeper Sage Dovale with the ball at her feet, making it to where she could easily tap in a goal with her left foot.

Despite the three goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, the first-half scoring was still far from over. First, Griffin made some room towards the top of the box in the 42nd minute before quickly turning to find Fuccello. The New Jersey native then touched around a defender and fired a hard shot towards the far post that ripped into the netting, making it 3-1 in favor of the host side.

Substitute Jesse McDonough later extended that lead to 4-1 in the waning seconds of the half, registering a stoppage-time tally. After distribution came from Vasquez, she gained possession from deep out and caught Maldanado overcommitting to the long ball she received. Seeing the opportunity in front of her, McDonough quickly chipped a ball over the opposing netminder's head, and the Wildcats held a 4-1 advantage when the two sides broke for intermission.

Only one goal was recorded in the second half, and it was from the feet of the visiting Valkyries. After earning a free kick from about 30 yards out, North Jersey midfielder Nickolette Driesse stepped over the ball. Sensing a bit of an opening, Driesse then put a near perfect strike on a shot attempt, sending it over the New Jersey wall and ricocheting into the net after hitting the nearside post.

After seceding that goal to make it 4-2, the Wildcats buckled down on the defensive end of the field to make sure no more damage was done. Both sides turned up the aggression as well, and a handful of yellow cards were revealed as a result.

Next up for the Wildcats is a road outing on Saturday, June 1, when the team travels to Virginia Beach to play the Piranhas and then the Fredericksburg Impact the following day. The next home match for New Jersey is on Saturday, June 8, when it hosts the Piranhas at 2 p.m. at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel.

Tickets for all Wildcats home matches are now available and can be attained by calling 732-298-7619. Individual game tickets as well as team and family packages are available.

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