The ball was sent back toward the defense without any speed or urgency, so once it started to slowly roll, freshman midfielder Lena Tusche turned on the jets and easily gained possession for Mount St. Dominic.
It was the type of hustle play that has earned her teammates’ respect this fall.
Tusche is also the team’s best offensive playmaker though, and when she took off, it put the Cedar Grove defense on edge. The rookie drew a few defenders in her direction after getting the ball and that opened up room for classmate Gianna Camporeale, who later buried a penalty kick after being fouled in the box.
That sequence gave Mount St. Dominic its final goal in a 3-1 victory.
The Essex County squad has a talented freshman class and three rookies are in the starting lineup, including Tusche, Camporeale and defender Mia Mangili. All three are making a major impact this season and their infusion of youth has the Lions in line to finish above .500 for the first time since 2019.
“They really tie our team together,” senior captain Amanda Galasso said of the rookies. “We struggled in the beginning of last year to play together, but then by the end of the year we picked it up. Having three players like this come in, it makes us such a well-rounded team.”
Captain Maria Holevas scored her first of the season to give Mount St. Dominic its initial lead in the first half on Senior Night. The senior used a subtle touch with a header to knock the ball over the keeper’s hands and into the back of the net. Mount St. Dominic maintained that lead going into halftime.
Cedar Grove came back in the second half and evened things up on a Samira Lukovic penalty kick.
That didn’t last long though and Tushe made sure of it when she fired in a goal on the best shot of the game. It was the 11th goal of the season for the rookie and ended up being the game-winner. The defense hasn’t given up more than one goal all season, so that goal was most likely going to be enough, but Cedar Grove did have hope when it was down by just a score, knowing it just needed one play.
Camporeale’s penalty kick shut the door for good though.
Mount St. Dominic has only lost twice this season and both times, the game was decided by a single score. In both instances, the Lions put more chances on net, but couldn’t get one to go. On offense, the freshmen lead the way in scoring, but Holevas, Caitlin Caufield, Saheli Davitt and Eliza Haghighi have also been effective. The back like features Galasso, Mangili, senior Julia Camporeale and Maddie Natale.
Junior keeper Frankie Mansfield doesn’t get tested often, but she’s always ready.
This team feels really good about where it is at right now, especially with tournament play coming up. It’s young in spots, but this group has shown that it can play with the best of the best in Essex County.
“We felt we were dominating those games and that we just gave up an unlucky goal,” said Holevas. “It happens, but those losses do fuel us up and we know we have the Essex County Tournament coming up and hopefully we’ll see them again.”
- In the News