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RED BANK -- Junior Devyn Drusjack scored the first two goals of her varsity career Tuesday during her Red Bank Catholic girls soccer team's rout of Donovan Catholic -- both of which came in the second half, with the game well in hand.

Three days later, Drusjack scored again and this time, it was not window-dressing. It was championship-clinching.

Drusjack scored the game-winning goal in the 68th minute by following up her own miss and the top-seeded Caseys rallied from an early one-goal deficit to topple No. 3 St. John Vianney and reach the South Non-Public A championship game Sunday at Kean University against Immaculate Heart Academy.

Photo by Matt Manley
Photo by Matt Manley

"It feels so great to be able score and help this team win," Drusjack said. "I only scored my first varsity goal last game, so getting on and scoring again today was just crazy. We have girls who have scored so many goals: Morgan (Cupo), Mya (King), Gianna (Romeo), Noel (Pauwels). They have all had so many chances to come up big in these games so to be able to come up big and score is a great feeling."

Friday's win by the Caseys was also a revenge game after St. John Vianney beat RBC in overtime, 2-1, on Sept. 18.

"It was a revenge game, no doubt," sophomore Mya King said. "We wanted to beat them, especially to get to the state championship game."

After going three years in the program without a goal at the varsity level, Drusjack has now scored three of RBC's last four goals in the stat tournament, with the most recent score keeping the Caseys' hopes of a sixth overall Non-Public A title alive. In the 68th minute, she received the ball with daylight in front of her, set up a one-on-one chance against Lancers goalkeeper Kelsea Nolen and fired a shot that Nolen saved.

The ball, however, came right back to Drusjack and she put it right back on frame, this time finding the back of the net.

"I just saw that I had a chance and thought I'd take it," Drusjack said. "When it rebounded back, I was right there and just tried to finish it and it ended up working.

"I think at that point, we knew we had the momentum. He had just scored two goals after being down by one, so we were super-energized and we wanted to keep it up to make sure they didn't score."

Red Bank Catholic held St. John Vianney without a shot for the next 10 minutes before the Lancers manufactured two shots in the final two minutes, one of which was on frame. Caseys senior keeper Cleo Grignard handled the shot without a problem and RBC ran out the clock on the program's 11th NJSIAA sectional championship, which includes last year's 4-1 win over St. John Vianney in the final of a modified NJSIAA sectional tournament.

St. John Vianney came out strong and put RBC on its heels over the game's first 15 minutes. The Lancers got their goal in the 12th minute, with senior Ally Oauno crossing the ball to freshman Milani Thompson for the finish and a 1-0 lead. At one point in the first 15 minutes, the Lancers owned a 6-1 advantage in shots, which swung back in favor of the Caseys, 12-10, by the end of the match.

"I think it took us a little bit to feel the vibe of the game and to get a feel for how we were playing as a team," King said. "Once we got to the half, I think we had a really good pep talk, we came together on a plan and it helped us win the game."

RBC settled into the game during the second 20 minutes of the first half and finally drew even in the 60th minute with a pretty four-player sequence. Sophomore Ashley Inacio dribbled past a defender and got the ball to junior Gianna Romeo, who played it wide toward senior Morgan Cupo. Cupo tracked it down and crossed the ball to a wide-open King, who converted the easy finish to level the game at 1-1.

"I think more space opened up because we started getting the ball to our midfielders instead of just playing long balls," King said. "We found each other, trusted each other and kept making great passes."

Like Drusjack, King has also had a big two-game stretch for RBC, with the sophomore forward posting two goals and three assists in the win over Donovan Catholic before scoring Friday's equalizer.

Cupo nearly tied the game seven minutes into the second half when she one-timed a long ball from Romeo off the right post and past Nolen, but the ball never quite crossed the end-line to give RBC its first goal.

The meeting between Red Bank Catholic and Immaculate Heart will mark the fifth time the two non-public power players have clashed in the state final. IHA owns a 2-1-1 edge in the all-time championship series between the two programs, with RBC's only win coming in 2003. That was also the last time the Caseys won the outright Non-Public A title, with RBC's last three state championships coming in the form of co-titles as a result of a championship-game tie.

Red Bank Catholic's most recent trip to the Non-Public A final was in 2016, when the Caseys tied Oak Knoll, 3-3, to claim a share of the title.

"I'm so happy for the seniors that they get to play one more game," Drusjack said. "Being able to make it this far is so exciting and to see the fans and the school spirit just makes it so cool. The seniors have been really encouraging and they have really rallied us together to try and finish the season strong."


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