Three minutes into the second half of East Mountain High School’s Sept. 25 girls soccer match against the visiting Moriarty Lady Pintos, a bolt of lightning brought everything to a halt.
With the Lady Timberwolves clinging to a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute, the officials blew their whistles and cleared the field.
High school rules require a 30-minute delay for any lightning strike within 10 miles; the 30-minute delay resets with any subsequent strike.
According to the head referee, there were several subsequent strikes. “It kept going and going,” he said.
About an hour after the game was suspended, with several players and a few coaches mingling on the field wondering when or if it would resume, the officials called the game.
The head referee said that because one full half of the match had been completed, it met the requirements of being an official game, so East Mountain (6-2-1) was declared the winner—a first for the Lady T’Wolves.
The Lady T’Wolves and the Lady Pintos have played each other for several years in preseason scrimmages, but this was their inaugural regular-season matchup.
Standing around unaware of the game’s status during the delay “was a little frustrating,” Moriarty’s head coach Val Luker said. “If they were going to allow people back on the field they should’ve just let us finish playing.”
East Mountain head coach John Sabrowski’s sentiment was similar.
“I would’ve liked to see it go to the end,” Sabrowski said, adding, “It was an even game so, we’ll take the win, and it’s a rivalry.”
“I understand the lightning rule,” Moriarty senior forward Ashley Strader said. “But I wish we could’ve kept playing.”
Throughout the game, each team aggressively attacked the other’s side of the field.
Nine minutes into the match, East Mountain’s Kaylee Baker appeared to score, but the Lady T’Wolves were called for being offsides and the would-be goal was nullified.
In the 24th minute, Moriarty’s Chloe Rector penetrated East Mountain’s 18-yard box shoulder-to-shoulder with T’Wolves defender Vanessa Armstrong.
Rector rifled a shot toward the goal, lost her footing, and crashed to the ground just before East Mountain’s goalkeeper Hannah Shirley scooped up the ball for the save.
In the 27th minute, East Mountain’s Mia Gutierrez sent the ball from the right side into the box where Baker got a hold of it on a bounce.
Baker poked the ball past Moriarty’s diving goalkeeper Araceli Kamplain into the left side of the net for the game’s lone goal.
“It was bouncing and bounding at the six [the 6-yard area in front of the goal] and I volleyed it in,” Baker said.
Late in the first half, Moriarty (5-5) was awarded two free kicks but both were stopped by Shirley. She had seven saves.
The Lady Pintos also had two corner kicks that they couldn’t capitalize on, including one in the 39th minute.
“East Mountain played a good game, they’re very physical,” Luker said, adding, “A lot of our big kickers were kicking it right to their goalkeeper.”
“We had moments where we transitioned and possessed [the ball] very well,” Sabrowski said. “Overall, I think it was a pretty balanced, even match.”
After the game, Emma Rocco, a Lady T’Wolves’ striker who played at Moriarty as a freshman, said, “We really wanted this [victory], everyone on this team wanted it.”