Published Jul 17, 2022
Written By:  Charlie Corr
             East Region Contributor

​Photos By:  Jeremy Ryan, Real Central NJ

SJEB FC’s Giovanna Castorina tallied a second-half goal to lead her side to a hard-fought 1-0 victory against VT Fusion on Sunday to win the WPSL East Regional Final in Trenton, N.J. With the victory, SJEB is bound for the WPSL Championship Semifinals and will face Central Regional Champion, Colorado Rapids Women on Friday, July 22 (8:15 p.m. CT) in Stillwater, Okla.


Castorina’s winning tally came in the 73’ minute – a top-shelf strike that served as the culmination of SJEB’s steady attack throughout Sunday’s match. SJEB goalkeeper Molly Piso and the back line maintained the clean sheet.


SJEB and VT Fusion played a scoreless first half and fatigue from Saturday’s marathon East Regional Semifinal matches certainly could have factored into the slow start. Vermont topped regional host Real Central NJ and SJEB FC defeated Downtown United SC, both by virtue of penalty kick shootout victories, following 120 minutes of regulation and overtime action.


SJEB FC created the brunt of Sunday’s first-half opportunities and even had a couple moments in the opening two minutes to strike first. Paige Kenton found herself in a high-percentage situation in the second minute, set up by a precise layoff pass, but Kenton’s shot was pushed wide right.


SJEB forward Amanda Attanasi generated a pair of scoring chances toward the end of the first half with a header off of a corner kick that rose over the crossbar in the 37’ minute and then a 44th-minute, right-footed strike that forced Fusion goalkeeper Erin Murphy into a save to keep the score level at 0-0 heading into halftime.


Vermont’s first 45 minutes included some modest moments in the attacking third. Josie Pecor fired a long-distance shot in the 5’ minute that sailed over the goal, and Blessing Kingsley’s individual work on the right flank looked promising in spots. SJEB’s defense overall kept things quiet for Piso.


In the second half, SJEB continued to apply the pressure and the club thought it had the match’s first tally in the 56’ minute when Rachel Hollywood slotted a low shot into the left side of the frame; Hollywood was ruled offside on the play.


Attanasi was the attacking catalyst in the second half, as well, for SJEB. Attanasi’s 59th-minute header forced a Murphy save, and then in the 64’ minute Attanasi reared back with a shot that Murphy parried into the top of the crossbar to surrender a corner kick.


SJEB’s relentless attack finally came to fruition in the 73’minute, when Attanasi’s original strike was blocked by the Fusion defense. Castorina was there for the follow-up on the right side of the box, and her top-shelf strike provided the club’s long-awaited and deserved goal to book a trip to Oklahoma.