By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — There’s a new single-season scoring queen in the Wildwood High School girls soccer program.
Kaydence Oakley’s 19-yard strike into the upper right corner of goal off a free kick during Thursday’s contest with Buena accounted for her 34th tally of the season, breaking the program’s single-season scoring record.
Oakley’s goal served as the equalizer with 15 minutes to play after Buena scored early in the second half. Neither team scored again as the teams played to a 1-1 draw through two periods of extra time.
Wildwood’s single-season scoring record had been held by Jen Fetsick, who netted 33 as a senior in 2003. Fetsick, widely regarded as the best player in program history, is also Wildwood’s all-time leading scorer with 109 goals. She went on to play college soccer at Division I Lehigh.
“I know Jen Fetsick and I’m certainly aware of the impact she had on this program historically,” said second-year Wildwood coach Mark Scarpa. “It’s a testament to the kind of person, first and foremost, and the kind of player Kaydence is to break that kind of a record. Knowing Jen and getting to know Kaydence over these last couple years, there are a lot of similarities between them and I think that’s actually one of the best compliments I could give Kaydence.”
Oakley, a junior, scored the milestone goal only a few minutes after being denied what would have been an all-world goal when Buena goalkeeper Jadarys Morales got her fingers on a blast from 30 yards and narrowly tipped the effort off the post.
Oakley gave Morales no chance on her free kick. Stationed just to the left of the left post from 19 yards, Oakley ripped her shot into the upper right corner, just under the crossbar.
“She’s certainly built for that situation,” Scarpa said. “Probably her biggest asset is her ability to strike the ball. When you get a free kick from 19 yards out, any soccer coach is thinking, Who’s my best at putting the laces on the ball?, and she delivered without a doubt.”
Wildwood (9-10-1) played large portions of the game with 10 players. Without a substitute due to injuries, Wildwood saw one of its midfielders go out for more than 10 minutes of the second half after picking up a knock before returning. Later, early in the second period of extra time, another Wildwood player went out for the remainder of the game after getting clipped on the foot by a Buena player during a challenge at midfield.
But Oakley’s presence up top, good work in the midfield by Imene Fathi and Sophia Wilber and solid defending by backs Kara McLaughlin and Ashley Nagle limited Buena’s chances. And Wildwood’s Brooke Steckel, pressed into goalkeeping duties due to injury, stopped a breakaway that most likely would have won it for Buena with four minutes remaining in regular time.
The contest was Wildwood’s last of the regular season. The team next plays Tuesday at Audubon in the opening round of the South Jersey Group I Tournament.
“More than anything, at this point we’re looking toward that playoff game,” Scarpa said. “You never look beyond an opponent but today was a good situation for us to build some confidence and sort of get a handle on the fundamentals that we’re working on. I like the energy we’re playing with as we head toward the playoffs.”
Oakley had put herself in position to break the single-season scoring record by scoring a single-game record seven goals in Wednesday’s 9-0 win over Salem.