Monthly Archives: September 2013

Metuchen dominates in topping North Brunswick

NORTH BRUNSWICK — Coming into the season, the Metuchen High School girls soccer team needed one win to give their coach a milestone worth celebrating. The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time, dominating North Brunswick 6-2 Saturday afternoon and in the process, head coach Val Gazda earned her 300th victory at Metuchen in the season opener.

Gazda, who mentioned that her first coaching game was against North Brunswick and her 100th victory came against the Raiders as well, so to get the milestone against a familiar opponent made it extra special.

“I knew it would come some time soon. If it didn’t happen today, Tuesday would be another chance,” Gazda said. “It’s huge and the fact that this is my 24th year in this program, I just sit back and say ‘wow.’ It’s really cool.”

Gazda’s players did the work on this day, turning a 1-1 halftime tie into a 3-1 lead in just five minutes in the second stanza. Senior Emily Corson scored both of those quick goals, the second coming on a penalty kick after North Brunswick picked up a handball in the box.

“During halftime, along with the other captains, I talked about how we needed to pick it up and those two goals helped change it all for us,” Corson said. “That penalty kick set the tempo for the rest of the half.”

Once they took the lead, Metuchen was off and running, as Katharine Chura and Gabby Cyran added markers to put the contest out of reach. With the outcome not in doubt and win no. 300 all but assured, Gazda said she didn’t even know if her squad knew that the victory would be anything more than a 1-0 start to their season.

“I didn’t mention anything to them,” she said. “At halftime, they were talking about playing with the consistency that we expect and in the second half we maintained that. And if you can put a couple more nails in, it definitely helps.”

The Bulldogs got the game’s first goal when Cyran lofted a cross into the box and a North Brunswick player directed it into her own net in the 11th minute. But just before the half, Julie Youngman knotted the score for the Raiders, blasting a shot high over goalkeeper Emily Buchanan.

The score stayed tied until the 43rd minute, when Corson parked herself in front of the North Brunswick net and goalkeeper Danielle Segerholm, got a pass from a teammate and knocked the ball home.

After a solid strike to convert the penalty, Corson added an assist to her afternoon by crossing a pass from the right corner directly onto the foot of Chura, who was denied on her first attempt by Segerholm, but kept with it and tapped home the easy goal.

“Emily is becoming a force up top with some speed,” Gazda said. “She’s an attacking mid, but her and Gabby are in their senior year and the seniors were holding it together today and they really want the best for this program.”

Lindsay Hoagland also scored for North Brunswick, which had trouble putting multiple passes together throughout the day. The Raiders are back in action Monday when they travel to Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Metuchen will look to go to 2-0 when they host Highland Park.

South River romps past Woodbridge in opener

SOUTH RIVER — For the South River High School boys soccer team, the 2012 season ended on a sour note, as the Rams’ magical campaign came to an end in a penalty kick shootout loss to Haddon Heights in the NJSIAA Group I semifinals.

But if there were any lingering doubts about whether or not the Rams could rebound and start their 2013 season with a bang, they were quickly erased Friday afternoon as South River dominated Woodbridge 9-2 in both schools’ season opener.

Senior striker Glauber Ferreira scored four first-half goals, including a beautiful header from the top of the box, as the Rams built a 6-0 halftime advantage. Miguel Joao and Rolando Martinez also connected in the opening 40 minutes for South River.

“The way we’ve practiced, we are able to read each other well and it’s just a lot of skill on the ball. My focus is to score as a striker and that’s what I came to do today,” Ferreira said.

The first of Ferreira’s goals came after Adrian Pietrzyk stole the ball around midfield from a Woodbridge player, dribbled up the sideline, and lofted a perfect feed into the box.

About 20 minutes later, Ian Sawicki cleared the ball halfway down the field, finding Ferreira beyond his man for an easy goal.

“When the guys are playing with a certain rhythm, we get a lot of scoring chances,” South River head coach Eric Clays said. “We were very unselfish today and we communicated well in the attacking third. That was probably a key to us putting in as many goals as we did.”

Ferreira noted that he and his teammates worked hard this summer to move on from last season’s bitter end and on this day, the effort was clearly evident.

“We always come out here focused and we have each other’s back. We let the soccer do the talking,” Ferreira said.

Eugene Frimpong scored both of Woodbridge’s goals in the second half, one on a header off a corner kick and the other on a blast from beyond the 18-yard box late in the contest. It was the first of Frimpong’s goals that concerned Clays.

“Corners, for us on defense, became a little bit of a circus in our box,” he said. “We need to get back to practice and work on defensive marking. But, I thought the back line did a good job of holding a good Woodbridge team to only two goals; I would have thought that holding them to under three goals would have been a victory in itself.”

Pietrzyk also converted a header off of a South River corner in the second half and Kevin Mendez knocked home a late goal. But the defensive effort, with a big lead, in the first game of the season, was the thing that Clays took away from this one.

“I was very happy with the defensive effort from start to finish for the whole 80 minutes. It’s common for athletes to lose a little bit of focus when the game is in hand and let up, but I liked our mental toughness today,” he said.

Sydney Rosa an inspiration for East Brunswick

East Brunswick junior Sydney Rosa warms up before a Bears' scrimmage in August. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan.

East Brunswick junior Sydney Rosa warms up before a Bears’ scrimmage in August. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan.

Flash back to February 2012, when Sydney Rosa began to notice something was wrong.

“I couldn’t hear and I was getting nose bleeds all the time,” Rosa said. “I would wake up in the middle of the night and have a huge puddle of blood on my shirt and it was really gross. My mom kept taking me to the doctor and I got tubes put in my ears, but nothing really changed.”

The months passed and Rosa’s condition didn’t improve. That June, after doctors took extensive blood work from the then-East Brunswick High School freshman, the diagnosis was revealed: Rosa was suffering from Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare disorder where blood vessels become inflamed, making it hard to breathe. Rosa was slowly losing her ability to hear and she was struggling to operate normally.

“I felt lousy at that time and it was really bad for me,” she said. “I didn’t want to get out of my bed in the morning and I had headaches a lot. I just didn’t want to go to school or anything. I missed 16 days of school last year, including eight days in the last quarter, so it really set me back. I was really out of shape.”

But the fight in Rosa’s body would not succumb to the ailment that plagued her throughout the summer, and as a sophomore for the Bears last season, she recorded 15 goals in the final 13 games, earning a first-team All-Area selection for the second time in as many years.

“She found that gear again and when she found her game, we took off,” head coach Kevin Brady said. “She’s the kid that is the heart and soul of our team.”

As the Bears were on their way to a ninth-straight Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division title, Rosa played, but didn’t register any points. She assisted on goals in consecutive games in late September, but didn’t score her first goal of the season until October 2 in a contest against Woodbridge.

“That was like my favorite moment and my favorite goal I had ever scored,” she said. “I was kind of getting really upset with myself and you could tell I was getting frustrated and when I finally scored that goal, I heard my mom screaming at the top of her lungs in the stands. It was an incredible feeling and I finally felt like I was back and ready to contribute.”

Even though she’d been playing at less than 100 percent health, Rosa wasn’t going to let that stop her from enjoying the game she loves with a team she calls her second family.

“She’s the most inspirational kid I’ve come across in all my years of coaching,” Brady said. “She recovered from something that is life-threatening and she’s a 16-year-old, bubbly girl that doesn’t want to dwell on it. She’s a living embodiment of what sports are all about and I think she’s the hardest working kid I’ve ever been around.”

Getting a healthy Rosa in the lineup was almost like adding a player at midseason, so when the GMCT began, East Brunswick entered as a serious contender. In the opening round, Rosa connected on a hat trick against Colonia and in a semifinal game against J.P. Stevens, she scored twice and assisted on another as the Bears won handily. But she was holding off on submitting her best performance of the season.

Against Piscataway in the GMCT final, Rosa scored the game-winning goal, giving her school their 27th conference championship and it’s a goal that ranks right up there on the list of her favorite moments.

“I have always wanted to have one of those moments and those goals that proves to people why I should be there,” she said. “I was just out of my mind, so excited.”

The fact she was able to score any goals at all, let alone play a sport so demanding and physically draining was cause for celebration in its own right. Without treatment, Wegener’s granulomatosis has been known to be fatal in less than a year. Because the cause is widely unknown, the fearsome disease could strike anyone at any time. But the support system that Rosa has makes every day worth fighting for.

“I seriously have the best family in the world. My mom is absolutely amazing; she misses a lot of work for me and she does it because she wants to be with me,” Rosa said. “She’s been by my side the whole time and when I had to undergo all of these surgeries, you’re not allowed to eat, so she wouldn’t eat either, because she didn’t want me to go through it on my own.”

Since undergoing multiple surgeries this past summer, Rosa has regained most of her hearing and things look bright for the future. She said she feels 100 percent healthy heading into her junior season, although she’s not in the best physical condition of her life.

“I ran a lot this summer to try and get back in the swing of things, but sometimes I can’t breathe, because my arch dropped in my nose, and it caved in, so when I breathe really fast, it stops and gets cut off. So, sometimes I can’t breathe all that well,” she said. “I think 50 percent is how you actually feel and 50 percent is more of a mental feel. I’m all there now and I don’t let it consume me and defy me. I defy it.”

Her effort and drive to beat this ailment hasn’t been lost on her teammates, most of whom didn’t know exactly what she was going through until late last season.

“I could never do what she’s gone through. She has such great strength and to see her come back from such a serious illness is insane. To have her back at full strength this year, I can’t wait,” senior Ellie DiLiberto said.

Considering the Bears were 11-0-0 when Rosa recorded at least one point last season, the feeling around the squad is that everyone is excited to have her back playing at all.

“It looked like there was a great gift that had it unfairly taken away last season, but she’s taken it back,” Brady said. “She makes me excited to go to practice every day and see her play.”

Piscataway reloads under new coach

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.