Girl’s soccer: Leah Klurman’s hat trick advances Raiders to county finals


Gabby Lancaster

Photo courtesy of Matt Kipp

CLARK, NJ –Saturday’s soccer match between 3rd ranked Scotch Plains-Fanwood and 2nd ranked Union was a seesaw battle, featuring several lead changes until sophomore Holly Nelson scored the game winner six minutes into the first overtime period. SPF’s 5-4 victory sends the Raiders to the Union County Tournament Final against top-ranked Cranford.
“This win is a huge confidence boost for the team.  It showed that we can come back when we are losing and how we can work together really well,” Corinne Lyght said.
The Raiders were led by freshman Leah Klurman’s three goals and Lyght’s two assists, including a beautiful cross for Nelson’s game-winner. Maggie Traina, Rebecca Lancaster and Lizzie Ley each contributed an assist for SPF. Maya Kessler made several quality saves.
The game was a back and forth affair for the first 20 minutes.  The Raiders had several early chances – both shots were missed due to a questionable handball call and hitting the crossbar.
SPF, who had possession for most of the first half, scored first with 20 minutes left, with a long pass from Traina to Klurman, for her first goal.
With 17 minutes remaining in the first half, SPF had a great opportunity to extend the lead with a corner kick which was headed by Lyght, but it sailed just to the left of the goal. Union didn’t back down to the strong play of the Raiders and in the 26th minute scored the equalizer.
Both teams displayed tough defense throughout the game. With just :35 the referees missed an offsides call, allowing a Union player to chip a ball just over Kessler’s outreached hands to take a 2-1 halftime lead.
Coach Ewing wouldn’t let the blown call deflate his players, as the Raiders came out of halftime with constant pressure, resulting in a goal tying the match just 6 minutes into the second half.
Then, in the 47th minute, Klurman’s second goal gave SPF a 3-2 advantage. Union fought back and rallied with two goals to take a 4-3 lead.
However, the high-scoring regulation time wasn’t complete. Klurman completed her hat trick in the 74th minute, knotting this battle at 4-4 and ultimately into overtime.
The Raiders came out of the short break energized, controlling the ball and with just over four minutes remaining in overtime, Lyght received a throw-in, made a power move on her defender, continued down the right side of the pitch and just before the end line, delivered a beautiful cross to Nelson for a game-winning header – sending Raider Nation into a frenzy!
“Our strategy never changes really, but we just wanted to take this win over Union so bad and played our hearts out until literally the last minute.  That paid off and now we are going to go on Friday and take it home,” Klurman said.
Go support the girls team in their final game this Friday at 6pm at Kean University!