Chatham girls soccer outlasts Shawnee in penalty kicks, wins first state title since 2004

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — Chatham girls soccer team had an incredible run, going nearly 500 minutes without conceding a goal, until the last moments of Sunday’s Group 3 state final. A penalty kick ended their streak and the game ended in a tie, disrupting their chance for a sixth consecutive clean sheet.

However, the team’s previous close calls had prepared them for this moment.

“We’ve faced similar situations before, but I don’t think [Shawnee] had,” said coach Anthony Correale. “We’ve experienced games where a late goal changed the outcome and we’ve learned to adapt. We were ready for whatever was ahead.”

After 20 minutes of overtime, the game went to penalty kicks, and Correale chose five shooters, but the players decided on the order themselves.

“I told the girls I had faith in them,” Correale continued. “I gave them my suggested order, but I encouraged them to do what felt right, because they were the ones on the field. They changed the order, which I wanted, as it meant they were more comfortable, and I’m extremely proud of them.”

In the end, junior Abby Droner’s second penalty kick secured Chatham’s first Group 3 state title since 2004 in a shootout win over Shawnee. The teams were level at 1-1 after 100 minutes of regulation and overtime before the Cougars won 4-3 in a 6-round shootout.

Chatham girls soccer senior co-captains Emma Regan (left) and Leigha Matter are emotional after the Cougars win the Group 3 state title over Shawnee in penalty kicks on Nov. 12, 2023.

“I believe anyone could have stepped up and taken the shot,” said Droner. “We had our order and had practiced so much that we were confident.”

Chatham took charge in the first half, creating numerous opportunities, but only scoring once in the opening 40 minutes. They finally hit the target in the 19th minute from a corner kick. Droner’s delivery into the box led to a scramble in front of the net, resulting in junior McKenna Hogan poking the ball in for the game’s first goal.

“Abby’s cross into the box was excellent,” stated Hogan. “It bounced around, and I was able to slot it in with my right foot.”

Shawnee, in their first state final in program history, pressed for an equalizer in the second half, and their perseverance paid off with a goal in the final minutes of regulation. Katie Portley’s penalty kick in the 77th minute leveled the game at one.

During the penalty kicks, Shawnee was unfortunate as Portley and Makenzie McCready hit the left post with their shots. In contrast, Leigha Matter and Droner scored their attempts, giving them a 2-0 lead. Although Shawnee narrowed the gap, Chatham eventually emerged as winners in an intense six rounds.

“I’m incredibly proud and happy we achieved our goal,” Droner expressed. “We have really worked hard for each other. It was very emotional, and I’m ecstatic we finally succeeded.”

This article originally appeared on Chatham NJ girls soccer beats Shawnee in penalty kicks for first Group 3 title since 2004


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