LINWOOD -- When Mainland Regional High School girls soccer coach Chris Connolly looks over at his bench these days, it's probably a surprise when he actually sees any healthy bodies available to go into a match.
The Mustangs came into this season highly rated, but injuries have led to some inconsistent form. But although Connolly was missing three of his best players in a home game against Hammonton, the girls he was able to field played extremely well in a 3-0 victory.
The Mustangs moved to 5-3-1 with the win, while the loss dropped the Blue Devils to 3-7 on the season. Mainland had to do without senior goalkeeper Jessica Figueroa, senior striker Sara Lands and freshman defender Emilee Dalessio, all sitting out with various knocks.
But their teammates were able to pick up the slack against a Hammonton side that never stopped hustling on a raw, windy day here. Sophomore Abby Carey gave the Mustangs a 1-0 halftime lead, and two goals by junior Jessica Mann sealed the deal for Mainland.
"This just shows we're a real team," Connolly said. "It's great that the girls can step up and be there for each other. Hopefully, we'll be able to get some consistency in our game and, at the same time, get some of our injured players back."
Leading the way for the Mustangs was senior Jackie Eurble, who made her first appearance as a goalkeeper a memorable one by recording a shutout. Figueroa was on the bench, cheering on her teammates. She said she'll be back soon, but Eurble held down the fort at least for one day.
If this Mainland team finds its form, they may be able to mix it up with some of the "big girls" come state playoff time. Connolly and his staff have to hope that time heals all wounds (literally) and that the Mustangs can find a way to get on a roll when the games really start to matter.