After registering a 17-4-1 record last season and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA North 2 Group IV Tournament, the Piscatway High School girls soccer team has a drastically different look in 2013.
Gone are a trio of first-team All-Area players, including leading scorer Daija Griffin (23 goals, 12 assists) and starting goalkeeper Kristyn Shea (10 shutouts) along with two key cogs in the midfield, Amber Adams and Tamara Greene.
There’s also been a change on the sideline, with Piscataway alumnus Jen Vroman taking over as head coach. Vroman, a member of the 2002 Piscataway squad that won the first GMCT title in school history, inherits plenty of skilled players from last year’s coach Adrian McConney.
“We’re going to try and get Kelsey Nugent to be the playmaker from a central midfield position,” Vroman said. “We’re going to look to her to distribute the ball and I’m hoping that Danielle Grant will break out after a pretty quiet freshman year.”
Vroman said she also expects freshmen Lela Allen and Ayana Garvin to shock some people with their raw technical skill.
But the biggest challenge for the first-year head coach will be to find a new goalkeeper after the graduation of Shea, who made 149 saves last season.
“The goalie situation is something we’re still working on. Kristyn’s shoes are huge ones to fill and we’re hoping we can do that,” Vroman said. “We’ve brought up our goalie from jayvee and last season’s backup Meaghan Wells may be counted on to play significant time in net. But it’s going to be tough.”
One thing that shouldn’t be tough for Vroman is getting acquainted with Piscataway soccer.
The 2005 graduate previously served as the head coach at Raritan Valley Community College before taking over at her alma mater this past summer. The opportunity to coach at the school where she made a name for herself is something Vroman has always wanted to do.
“It’s a dream for me and it’s something I’ve always thought about,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and when the job became available, I knew I had to take it.”
Carteret set to roll
Despite the graduation of leading scorer Giselles Perez, Carterete’s Ramblers expect to be every bit as competitive this season.
In 2012, Perez scored 42 goals, the second-highest total in the state, while chipping in 16 assists as Carteret went 16-4-2. Midfielder Fiorella Doglio, who burst onto the scene with 22 goals and eight assists in her freshman season, returns as a central figure in Carteret’s offense, while senior midfielder Ciara Alston looks to build off a junior season in which she racked up 18 goals and 14 assists.
Out for more records
Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, Old Bridge expects even bigger things in 2013, which is hard to imagine after the Knights set school records with 16 wins and 14 shutout victories.
Although they lost top-scorer Nicole Brennan to graduation, Old Bridge brings back all but three starters from last season’s 16-5-1 squad that made it all the way to the Central Group IV final.
Look for upperclassmen Lauren Coletti (14 goals, 13 assists in 2012), Samantha Potts (nine goals, four assists) and Ashley Cafarella (five goals, six assists) to carry the load for the Knights.
Highland Park searching for repeat
Defending Gold Division champion Highland Park may go through a bit of a rebuilding season, with eight seniors having graduated from last year’s 12-8 squad. But the Owls have the personnel to stay atop the division. Look for junior Olivia Draper (10 goals last season) to lead the way.
Bishop Ahr should contend
Bishop Ahr, the 2012 White Division champs, bring back its leading scorer in Alexa Povelaitis (18 goals, eight assists) and starting goalkeeper in Brianna Foster (111 saves, six shutouts) to a 13-6 squad. Expect the Trojans to contend for back-to-back division crowns.
Still Blue’s best
Metuchen, last season’s Blue Division champs, didn’t stop with a division crown, instead rolling all the way to a berth in the Central Group I final.
The Bulldogs finished 18-3-1 before bowing out to second-seeded Shore in the championship. Despite graduating three of their top scorers and their starting goalkeeper, Metuchen should remain a force.