Salem — Senior forward Nedya Sawan is part of Mountainside High School’s first ever senior class, and she’s sending a forceful message as she plays her senior season. Mountainside is considered a potential threat in the 6A playoffs, although everyone will still be chasing Jesuit for the state title, and Friday’s performance put the Mavericks one step closer to the dream of a state championship.
Mountainside controlled the ball for well over 80% of the first half, firing shots, trying plays, and intercepting any Lady Saxons offensive attempt. In the 19th minute, Nedya Sawan put the ball past South Salem, getting the Mavericks on the board 1-0 in the first half. In a controversial call in the 27th minute, a would-be goal by Leila Hausia-Haugen was called off by the officials, keeping it a 1-0 game entering the half. South Salem was hanging around with Mountainside, but it would all come apart in the second half for the Lady Saxons.
Five minutes into the second half, Sawan made it a brace and gave Mountainside the 2-0 advantage to go along with their suffocating defensive effort. Gwendolyn Saing joined the scoring effort in the 16th minute, putting Mountainside up 3-0 and Sawan made it a hat trick with ten minutes left in the game, making it 4-0 and putting the icing on the cake of a great Mountainside performance with the Mavericks taking it 4-0 over the Lady Saxons on the road.
Scorers Nedya Sawan and Gwendolyn Saing talked about the shutout, individual performance, and seasonal aspirations afterwards. Sawan on her hat trick, “I’m pretty happy with my performance, obviously I hit the post three times in the first half which was frustrating but my team set me up for my goals and did an awesome job to props to them.” Sawan on being “underdogs”, “I mentioned underdogs earlier because last year was our first year of varsity and people weren’t expecting anything and I think last year we did a great job coming out and defying the odds and showing that we belong and our goal is to make it to the state finals.”
Saing on the game performance, “Possession is our key. In all of our games, we’ve been keeping the ball and not forcing the ball through, but our through balls are really good too. We don’t have like a weak defense and a strong four, we are strong at every position and it really helps.” Saing on the season goals, “Winning a state championship is the goal and I think the mindset of scoring, the determination to get the ball into the back of the net is going to be the key.”