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The Point Beach girls soccer team has been one of the better programs in NJSIAA Group I, but you would not know it if banners in the gym are what you look for to validate such standing.

That is because, for the last six years, the Shore Regional girls -- the best program in Group -- has been their annual foil. Whether close or lopsided, head-scratching or frustrating, for each of the past six years, the last game of the season for Point Beach has been a loss to the Blue Devils.

This past Saturday, with Point Beach getting the rare opportunity to host Shore, the Garnet Gulls finally got the better of what was a one-sided rivalry.

Photo: Steve Meyer
Photo: Steve Meyer

Trailing by a goal heading into the final 15 minutes, Point Beach scored twice in the final 13 minutes to erase the deficit and beat Shore, 3-2, to advance to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I semifinals. The win snapped six consecutive seasons of losing to Shore in the Central Group I playoffs and also earned Point Beach the Week 8 Surf Taco Girls Soccer Team of the Week Award.

The goal-scoring star for Point Beach on Saturday was Baleigh Johnson, a freshman who had never played against Shore before this year's sectional quarterfinal game. Johnson scored two goals to add to what is now a team-high total of 15 for the season, including the game-winner in the 72nd minute.

Sophomore Shelby Brunotte delivered the equalizer in the 67th, making her one of six sophomores on the team to score at least three goals this season and one of eight with at least two.

The emergence of the underclassmen have made a major difference for Point Beach in their march to the sectional final, but the postseason success -- particularly the win over Shore -- carries extra significance for seniors Kami Turnbach, Morgan Highland, Naima Shortridge, Cianna Costa and Rachel Artz, who had to endure half of the annual losing streak to Shore and are not part of the group that ended the streak.

Point Beach went on to advance to the sectional final with a 4-1 win over Roselle Park on Tuesday and will go for the championship Saturday at Highland Park, with kickoff set for 10 a.m.


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