CRANFORD – You have to put the ball in the net.
Dominating field possession or dominating the game or any kind of dominance at all is well and fine, but if you don’t put the ball in the net it doesn’t matter.
The Union girls’ soccer team – ranked among the best in the state – found that out the hard way.
Cranford scored on its only shot of the first half and then after Union tied the game in the second half the host Cougars actually amped up their attack.
Instead of allowing Union to gain momentum and take the game over again it was Cranford that was sparked by Union scoring to tie the game.
The Cougars produced a solid goal to take the lead for good and then added an insurance goal on a strange play where the ball just eventually rolled past the goal line.
All in all it was a solid effort for Cranford as the Cougars downed Union 3-1 Tuesday afternoon in Union County Conference-Watchung Division play at Memorial Field.
Cranford improved to 2-1 overall and is now 2-0 in the Watchung Division.
Union fell to 2-1 overall and is 0-1 in the Watchung.
It was Cranford’s first win over Union since a 1-0 triumph at home on Sept. 22, 2016.
Union swept Cranford in Watchung Division play last year, winning matches by scores of 2-0 and 3-2.
Union dominated the field of play and was constantly on the attack in the first half of Cranford’s home-opener.
However, when push came to shove, Cranford’s defense – and behind it sophomore goalkeeper Amanda Vath – was up to the task of net letting the Farmers score during the game’s first 40 minutes.
“We had plenty of chances and didn’t cash in,” third-year Union head coach Cassiano Dos Santos said. “They put their chances away.”
Scoring – in order – for Cranford were junior Maggie Murray in the first half and senior Kenzie Butler and freshman Riley Korzeneski in the second.
After Cranford senior Lauren Williamson was able to get the ball to hit off Union senior Gabby Lamadieu for a Cranford corner kick, Murray made something happen to break the scoreless deadlock.
Murray curved a corner kick from the left side that got by the Union goalie with 7:18 left in the first half. It was her second goal of the season.
“I had never scored off a corner kick in a game,” Murray said. “When I saw that the ball went in my jaw just dropped. I was just trying to get it to one of our players.”
Right before the first half concluded, Union senior Kiana Velosa-Lima blasted a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced back. The referee said that if the shot had gone in it would have counted because it was just before the final whistle before halftime.
Vath made a big save in the first minute of the second half and then Vath and senior Jackie Smith combined to thwart a shot fired on the right side by Miller-People.
Union tied the game some seven minutes later.
Senior forward Kayla Velosa-Lima knotted the match at 1-1 with 32:34 left after she headed a shot past Vath off a throw-in from senior Kayla Miller-People. It was Lima’s fourth goal of the season as she has now scored in all of Union’s first three matches.
The game remained tied at 1-1 for nine minutes before Butler put Cranford ahead for good.
Butler’s game-winning goal – off her right foot – came off a pass from the right side by Murray with 25:34 left. It was Butler’s first goal of the season. Butler also had the game-winning goal in Cranford’s previous win over Union two years ago on the same field, scoring in the second half of that match as well.
“I thought (Sofia) Ambrosio was going to get to the ball, but I was able to put a foot on it,” Butler said. “It was awesome because the game was 1-1 at the time.”
Korzeneski’s insurance goal came with 8:50 remaining. It was her first varsity goal.
Korzeneski jumped up to get any part of her body on the ball, except for her arms of course. She got enough of the ball to push it forward where it got past the Union goalie and Lamadieu and then just rolled slowly past the goal line and into the left corner.
“I hit it with my knee,” Korzeneski said. “I didn’t know if it was going to go in or not.”
Vath played well. She was tested several times and came up with some big saves.
Union senior goalie Megan Carreiro did not face the amount of shots that Vath did.
With Cranford ahead 2-1 Williamson produced a point-blank shot that hit the crossbar. Four minutes later she drilled a direct kick that just went wide of the goal on the left side.
“In the second half we had to relax,” Williamson said. “We always had someone on No. 6 (Miller-People) and No. 17 (Kayla Velosa-Lima). I think our defense did a good job.”
Union will host Cranford in Watchung Division play on Sept. 29 at 1 p.m.
The Farmers entered Tuesday’s match ranked No. 17 in this week’s nj.com statewide Top 20 rankings. Other Union County teams ranked in the Top 20 were Scotch Plains at nine and Westfield at eight.
“We will pick our heads up, watch game film and tweak a few things,” Dos Santos said.
“Once we relaxed we worked well together as a team,” Williamson said.
2018 UNION FARMERS:
1-Brianna Aguiar, senior, goalkeeper
3-Nicole Alfano, senior, defense
18-Krizia Aponte, senior, defense
0-Megan Carreiro, senior, goalkeeper
12-Takiyah Harris, senior, defense
10-Tamia Howell, senior, defense
16-Gabby Lamadieu, senior, defense
6-Kayle Miller-People, senior, striker
7-Lara Richeme, senior, midfield
17-Kayla Velosa-Lima, senior, striker
5-Kiana Velosa-Lima, senior, defense
14-Karen Vera, senior, defense
24-Mariana Ferreira, junior, midfield
8-Hailey Goncalves, junior, midfield
2-Kayla Goncalves, junior, defense
4-Riley Haggerty, junior, midfield
19-Emma DaSilva, junior, midfield
9-Ally Muhlstock, junior, defense
22-Kelly Severini, junior, midfield
Sara Casqueira, junior, midfield
11-Isabella Grof-Tisza, sophomore, midfield
Reagan Leavy, freshman, defense
Head coach: Cassiano Dos Santos,
GIRLS’ SOCCER (2-1):
(H) Union 2, Columbia 1 (OT)
(A) Union 4, Franklin 1
(A) Cranford 3, Union 1
Sept. 13 at Summit, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Piscataway, noon
Sept. 17 Randolph, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 Oak Knoll, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Montclair, 11 a.m.
Sept. 25 at Westfield, 4 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Scotch Plains, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29 Cranford, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 Summit, 4 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Kearny, 2 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Oak Knoll, 4 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
Oct. 18 Westfield, 4 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Millburn, 4 p.m.
2018 CRANFORD COUGARS:
24-Jackie Smith, senior
12-Kenzie Butler, senior
4-Grace DiGiovanni, senior
13-Abby Chang, senior
7-Maggie Murray, junior
8-Claire Ganley, junior
10-Lauren Williamson, senior
11-Brooke Swandrak, junior
9-Sofia Ambrosio, senior
5-Nellie Clark, junior
21-Kirsten Williams, sophomore
14-Jenna Besnecker, senior
3-Riley Korzeneski, freshman
16-Sophia Montague, sophomore
15-KC Pringle, senior
17-Kristina Kourtbaoui, senior
19-Abby Ahern, sophomore
20-Morgan Heim, sophomore
GK-Amanda Vath, sophomore
22-Caroline Ewing, junior
23-Laurel Teel, junior
GK Maya Jones, junior
Head coach: Andrew Gagliardo,
Assistant: Lindsey Brechbiel
GIRLS’ SOCCER (2-1):
(A) Cranford 3, Oak Knoll 1
(A) Watchung Hills 2, Cranford 0
(H) Cranford 3, Union 1
Sept. 13 at Westfield, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15 Columbia, 11 a.m.
Sept. 20 Summit, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22 West Essex, 11 a.m.
Sept. 25 at Scotch Plains, 4 p.m.
Sept. 27 Oak Knoll, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Union, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 Westfield, 4 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Gov. Livingston, 4 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Summit, 4 p.m.
Oct. 16 Scotch Plains, 4 p.m.
Oct. 18 Nutley, 6 p.m.
Oct. 23 at Pingry, 4 p.m.