By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
The Ocean Township girls’ varsity soccer team hosted the 11th Annual Mya Cup soccer game on Tuesday night. Their opponent was Red Bank Regional, and the game went to double overtime with Ocean pulling out a 4-3 victory.
Red Bank Regional, which entered the game undefeated at 4-0, jumped out with a 2-0 lead in the first half. Both their goals were scored by Ellie Lynch with the Bucs dominating the first half offensive action.
However, the Spartans struck fast in the second half when sophomore Isabella Santucci, scored off an assist by Julia DeGorge to pull Ocean within one. That was followed just two minutes later with Santucci scoring again, unassisted to even the score. Ocean took the lead when Madison Clark scored with an unassisted goal.
Everyone was excited as the Spartans lost the Mya Cup last year in double overtime to Marlboro. Red Bank Regional had other plans, as they were going for the cup and trying to keep their undefeated streak going. With just a few minutes to play, Lynch scored her hat trick of the game, and evened the score.
The first overtime period was scoreless. During the second overtime period, Santucci dribbled the ball into the right corner, and then cut around three Buc defenders and made a great pass to Abigail Desmarais who kicked in the winning goal.
In the goals, Harper Brechman of Red Bank Regional had three saves. Over on the Spartan side, Juliet Nies had five saves for the game. With the victory, Ocean improved to 4-2 on the season.
More important than the score is why the game is played and in who’s honor. Mya Lin Terry was a beautify young girl who was in fifth grade at the township intermediate school when she passed away on April 10, 2013. For nearly six years, Mya battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“The Ocean Township girls’ varsity soccer team established this event 11 years ago to show their love and support for Mya Terry, who was actively battling two cancers and had just arrived at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis to take part in a research study, and receive her second and third stem cell transplants,” said Kelly Terry, Mya’s mom. One of those players that organized the game was Alex Pickett, Mya’s cousin. Today, Pickett is in her rookie season as head coach of the Spartans.
Several players from that inaugural game were on hand to celebrate this year’s game and root on their former teammate, who is now coaching. “Mya continues to inspire us to make a difference and what better way to continue to honor Mya’s memory than to support other pediatric cancer warriors in our community. Pediatric cancer is not rare, 42 children are diagnosed in this country every day,” said Terry.
For 2022, the Mya Lin Terry Foundation is showing their love and support to young girl, Olivia Rispoli, 15, who is a resident of Red Bank. She was diagnosed with Leukemia, and is fighting hard. Olivia was on hand to present the Mya Cup to the Spartans.
“A huge thank you to all the families and friends who are supporting this event as well as the players, coaches and fans,” said Terry. Many of the township recreational soccer teams were in the stands in uniform, cheering on the Spartans. “I also have to thank my sister, Kasey Pickett, for ensuring and enabling this event to take place every year. Also, Beth Conti for the amazing Mya Cup shirt designs every year.” The 2022 shirt actually had Mya’s handwriting in the design.
Terry and Pickett also thanked the Long Branch Gourmet and Sweet N Joe for contributing to the snack bar.
Before the game started, Terry asked everyone for a moment of silence as they remembered Mya and her beautiful warriors who also earned their wings, Logan Parker, Augustus Maggio and Matthew West.
For more information on the Mya Lin Terry Foundation, please visit: https://www.themyalinterryfoundation.org/
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