Staff Report

Seneca came into the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 tournament as a No. 8 seed, but the Golden Eagles looked like a top-4 seed on Tuesday afternoon as they rolled past No. 9 Cedar Creek, 4-1, in the opening round of the state playoffs.

The Golden Eagles seem to have gotten hot at the right time, as they’ve now won seven of their last eight games, the lone loss coming against Coaches Cup finalist Bishop Eustace back on Oct. 18. Seneca advances to take on No. 1 Sterling in Friday’s quarterfinal round. There was only one upset in the opening round, as No. 10 Deptford took down seventh-seeded Medford Tech to set up a rivalry showdown in the second round with Deptford, the No. 2 seed.

The other quarterfinal matchups have No. 3 Haddonfield hosting No. 6 Haddon Heights and No. 4 Cinnaminson hosting No. 5 Middle Township.

Glory Days photo/Sully

Seneca got a big game from sophomore Ava Palladino, who racked up two goals and an assist as the Golden Eagles improved to 11-5-1. Palladino was thwarted on a penalty kick midway through the first half but didn’t get discouraged, as three minutes later she took a feed from fellow sophomore Gabby Miller and deposited a shot into the lower left to give Seneca a 1-0 lead. The Golden Eagles made it 2-0 a few minutes before halftime as Palladino drilled a direct kick from about 40 yards out that senior forward Abbey Johnson got a head on and placed it perfectly into the back of the net.

The Golden Eagles padded their lead with a pair of second-half goals as Miller, who leads the team with eight assists, and Palladino (team leading 16 goals) teamed up again to make it 3-0. Miller got a tally of her own with 10:28 remaining. Corinne Morgan scored the lone goal for the Pirates (8-10).

Here’s a look at how the rest of the girls soccer brackets are playing out:

South Jersey Group 1: The top eight seeds are all still alive after the opening round, as No. 1 Pitman received a first-round bye and No. 2 Schalick, third-seeded Haddon Township and No. 4 Clayton all scored blowout wins. Also advancing were (5) Pennsville, (6) Woodstown, (7) Audubon, (8) Gateway.

SJG3: This is No. 1 Ocean City’s bracket to lose, and the Red Raiders — who have already won the Cape-Atlantic League and Coaches Cup trophies — got off to a great start in the first round by pounding No. 16 Cumberland. The only upset of the first round was Absegami, a No. 10 seed that handed No. 7 Westampton Tech a 7-1 loss. The Braves advance to face No. 2 Clearview in the quarterfinals on Friday. Other quarterfinal matchups include Ocean City vs. (8) Moorestown, (4) Delsea hosting (5) Mainland, and third-seeded Lacey taking on No. 6 Triton. Ocean City could meet Mainland — the only team to have beaten the Red Raiders the past two years — in next week’s semifinals.

SJG4: There were three upsets in the opening round, as No. 9 Central took down No. 8 Washington Township, No. 11 GCIT beat No. 6 Williamstown and No. 10 Cherokee slipped past No. 7 Toms River East. The top four seeds, Toms River North, Eastern, Shawnee and Millville are all still alive.

Non-Public A South: The only true “South Jersey” team left in this bracket is No. 11 OLMA. The Villagers upset No. 6 St. Thomas Aquinas, 3-1, on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll travel to No. 3 St. John Vianney in Monmouth County.

Non-Public B South: It’s been all chalk here as all eight top seeds have advanced to the quarterfinals. No. 1 Bishop Eustace hosts No. 8 Moorestown Friends on Friday, and on that same side of the bracket No. 4 Holy Spirit hosts No. 5 Holy Cross. The other side of the bracket features (3) St. Rose vs. (6) Wildwood Catholic and No. 2 Rutgers Prep hosting No. 7 Calvary Christian out of Old Bridge.