Monthly Archives: October 2013

Knights produce dominant effort

OLD BRIDGE — With a spot in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament finals on the line, the Old Bridge High School girls volleyball team came out with one of its dominant performances of the season. The fourth-seeded Knights never trailed from the start and never looked back, taking out eighth-seeded East Brunswick in straight sets 25-20, 25-15 Wednesday afternoon.

Old Bridge will meet second-seeded J.F. Kennedy at 3 p.m. in Saturday’s final at J.P. Stevens in Edison.

The first game remained close until the Knights got rolling and used an 8-0 run to open the score from 13-10 to 21-10 and essentially put any chance East Brunswick had to rest.

“I feel like it was closer than the score; I felt like East Brunswick played well and I expected after they beat South Brunswick, that we would need to pay a little more attention to them,” Old Bridge head coach Andrew Hopman said. “I realized that they were kind of up-and-down all season; them beating South Brunswick was no fluke.”

Analis Capobainco aided the run with a pair of aces and the steadying play of the middle blockers for Old Bridge helped set the tone and maintain the lead, according to Hopman.

But the star of the match was Marta Belli, whose serves kept East Brunswick off-balance all day long. She helped spur the Knights to a runaway victory in the second set with an early ace, something that Hopman has become accustomed to seeing.

“Marta was the standout today. She just does so many wonderful things for us; she keeps the ball alive, she keeps plays going and we always seem to score on her serves. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s just a hard-to-predict ball because it doesn’t go anywhere, so it’s hard to know where it’ll land,” he said. “The next thing you know, it hits the floor or they make a bad pass.”

East Brunswick, which beat top seed South Brunswick in last week’s quarterfinals, appeared physically spent and just couldn’t make the play when it needed to. The Bears hit the ball into the net on multiple occasions and had no answer for the Old Bridge serves.

“Even though we beat them twice in the regular season, we knew they have good coaches and good players and they have great history, so we were worried a little bit. But we feel that if we serve well, we can win most of our games. If our serving is on, that adds to our confidence,” Hopman said.

John F. Kennedy 2, Edison 0: Much like Old Bridge, second-seeded J.F. Kennedy took an early lead and never lapsed, running away with a 2-0 (25-12, 25-18) victory over 11th-seeded Edison.

“The girls came out focused,” J.F. Kennedy head coach Rob Hugelmeyer said. “Volleyball is all about energy; the team that has it plays well and the team that doesn’t, doesn’t. The girls came out fired up and that was the game plan. I wasn’t talking strategy to them at all, just motivation. We kept the energy and we put the ball away when we had to.”

Jolie Tang was the catalyst for the Mustangs, recording 18 assists and 12 service points, while sisters Cassie and Francesca Garison combined for 18 kills and 10 service points, along with five digs and a good number of blocks.

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Antczak’s goal in OT lifts South Brunswick to win over Monroe

Monroe's Stephanie Pasewaldt, left, and South Brunswick's Brielle Errico chase down the ball in Tuesday's GNC Girls Soccer Tournament quarterfinal. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

Monroe’s Stephanie Pasewaldt, left, and South Brunswick’s Brielle Errico chase down the ball in Tuesday’s GNC Girls Soccer Tournament quarterfinal. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

MONMOUTH JCT. — Three times proved to be a charm for the South Brunswick High School girls soccer team Tuesday afternoon. The third-seeded Vikings, who lost a pair of overtime games during the regular season, refused to make it a trio of defeats in extra time and got a sudden-death goal from Cagnie Antczak for a 3-2 victory over sixth-seeded Monroe in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

With a throw-in from the right side of the field four minutes into overtime, South Brunswick’s Brielle Errico tossed it in and, after a pair of touches, the ball landed on Antczak’s left foot. The senior lofted a shot that eluded the outstretched arms of Monroe goalkeeper Erin Seppi, setting off a celebration as the Vikings advanced to Thursday’s GMCT semifinals.

“It’s one of the greatest feelings to know that you scored a goal for your team,” Antczak said. “To win the game for my team is an amazing feeling. It’s indescribable.”

Overtime was needed after a crazy sequence in the 64th minute, which saw both sides score goals within 30 seconds of each other. With the score tied at 1-1, South Brunswick won a corner kick and the ball went all the way through the box and came out to Taylor Brantely, who buried it on the short side.

But Monroe was not fazed; they took the ball straight down the field and worked it to sophomore Brooke Bussiere, who chipped it past South Brunswick goalkeeper Sydney Schneider to even the score.

“We talked a lot about how teams play differently in the postseason, because it’s a life-or-death kind of situation,” South Brunswick head coach Beth Barrio said. “And I think that the girls were prepared to have a tough game today. We knew coming in that Monroe was going to be a very difficult opponent; we played them twice in the regular season and when it went into overtime, I don’t think they were surprised.”

Before Antczak’s heroics in overtime, Errico had three separate rushes up the field, all resulting in shots wide of the net. But Barrio said she had stressed to her squad before the extra period began that they didn’t want it to get to penalty kicks.

“We’d been in this situation before and we know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of an OT game and we didn’t want it to get to penalty kicks; that would be a terrible way for this to end,” she said. “So we just tried to pump them up and say that the third time is the charm and that it was their game.”

In the early going, it looked like Monroe would be the team celebrating, especially after its two stars combined for the game’s first goal. Demi Rousseau dribbled all the way down the right wing and crossed a perfect ball to the foot of Taylor Evanchik, who tapped it home in the seventh minute.

But South Brunswick refused to go away, and in the 34th minute, the Vikings won a penalty kick after one of their players was hauled down in the box. Sam Stojanovski calmly stepped up and knocked it in, knotting the score at 1-1.

Reid leads Hunterdon Central to Skyland Conference gymnastics title

FLEMINGTON — Behind the stellar performance of Steph Reid, the Hunterdon Central High School gymnastics team captured the Skyland Conference title, posting a season-high 110.525 Friday night in their home gym.

Reid won both the floor exercise (9.625) and the vault (9.55) and finished second on the uneven bars (9.55) and the balance beam (9.575) to finish with an All-Around best 38.150.

“It was definitely my best performance of the year,” Reid said. “I’ve always been really consistent on floor and I’ve been getting good scores, so I just did the best I could. And on vault, I did my best and got my best score of the season.”

The Red Devils also got a standout performance from Jessie Vallorosi, who finished third in the All-Around with a score of 36.800. Vallorosi placed fourth on the uneven bars (9.350) and tied for third on the floor (9.375) to buoy Hunterdon Central to their first team title since 2011.

“I thought the girls were ready to go today. I though warmups went well and I think we had the right mindset coming in and our focus was going to be do what we can control,” Hunterdon Central head coach Jessica Cantagallo-Rohm said. “We can’t control what other teams do and how the judges score, so our focus was to do the best we could do and however the cards play out, that’s how it would work out for us. I was very happy with the performances that they had.”

Cantagallo-Rohm was particularly proud of the way they her squad performed, setting a season-high in points, in front of their home crowd. But, she knows that this is not the ceiling for the Red Devils, because of a few falls from usually consistent performers. Nevertheless, Reid’s performance stuck with her coach.

“I think she just had a great day. We have been waiting for this all season, she’s battled injuries for the last two years and I’m so happy that she put it together in this meet,” Cantagallo-Rohm said.

Other winners in the meet included Bridgewater-Raritan’s Emily Shugan and Hillsborough’s Sarah Pallay. Shugan took home first place in the uneven bars with a score of 9.55 and Pallay won the balance beam with a mark of 9.575.

Pallay’s All-Around score of 37.600 was less than half-a-point behind Reid for the title.

TEAM SCORES: 1. Hunterdon Central 110.525; 2. Hillsborough 109.025; 3. Bridgewater-Raritan 107.550; 4. Montgomery 107.350; 5. Somerville 104.475; 6. Watchung Hills 101.250; 7. Ridge 98.025; 8. North Hunterdon 96.275.

ALL-AROUND: 1. Steph Reid (Hunterdon Central) 38.150; 2. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 37.600; 3. Jessie Vallorosi (Hunterdon Central) 36.800; 4. Renee Mallick (Montgomery) 36.275; 5. Ayana Lee (Bridgewater-Raritan) 35.575; 6. Audrey Warner (Montgomery) 35.500.

VAULT: 1. Steph Reid (Hunterdon Central) 9.550; 2. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.450; 3. Brionna Hawkens (Somerville) 9.400; 4. Renee Mallick (Montgomery) 9.350; 4. Ayana Lee (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.350; 6. Jessie Vallorosi (Hunterdon Central) 9.250.

UNEVEN BARS: 1. Emily Shugan (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.550; 2. Steph Reid (Hunterdon Central) 9.475; 2. Natalie Onderko (Hillsborough) 9.475; 4. Jessie Vallorosi (Hunterdon Central) 9.350; 5. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.200; 6. Jordan Ricca (Montgomery) 9.050.

BALANCE BEAM: 1. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.575; 2. Steph Reid (Hunterdon Central) 9.500; 3. Renee Mallick (Montgomery) 9.400; 4. Audrey Warner (Montgomery) 9.200; 5. Maeve Stewart (Hunterdon Central) 9.125; 6. Natalie Onderko (Hillsborough) 9.075.

FLOOR EXERCISE: 1. Steph Reid (Hunterdon Central) 9.625; 2. Faye Lawrence (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.400; 3. Sarah Pallay (Hillsborough) 9.375; 3. Jessie Vallorosi (Hunterdon Central) 9.375; 5. Ayana Lee (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.300; 6. Meaghan Jones (Bridgewater-Raritan) 9.150.

Tigers execute plan, get past Sayreville

South Plainfield's Michaella Butrico, left and Brianna Boyce celebrate a goal in 2-1 victory over Sayreville on Wednsday. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

South Plainfield’s Michaella Butrico, left and Brianna Boyce celebrate a goal in 2-1 victory over Sayreville on Wednsday. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

SOUTH PLAINFIELD — With nearly a week to prepare for a third meeting against Sayreville, the South Plainfield High School girls soccer team came out with a plan and executed it perfectly on Wednesday, emerging with a 2-1 victory in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament.

The Tigers, seeded 16th in the tournament, got goals from Caity Hughes and Michaella Butrico to avenge a pair of contests in the regular season against their White Division rivals in which they were unable to pick up a victory.

South Plainfield’s reward for a hard-fought victory is a trip to play the tournament’s top seed — East Brunswick — on Friday.

Hughes got the Tigers on the board 17 minutes in when she followed up a blocked shot in the box and got in behind her defender before blasting home a low line drive to the lower third of the net. Just a freshman, Hughes executed exactly what head coach Danielle Chiera had planned for the contest.

“It was really great because we’ve spent the last two days going over how we were going to pressure and defend Sayreville and Caity did her job today,” Chiera said. “She had to deny (Sayreville defender) Nicole Raub any service out of their end and when the ball got blocked and Raub stepped out, Caity got in behind her and put it in. She got us a big goal when we needed it.”

The lead stood at 1-0 until the 49th minute, when Butrico was the beneficiary of another loose ball in front of the Sayreville net. South Plainfield had worked the ball down the field, eventually sending in a through-ball towards the net, but Brianna Boyce’s shot was blocked and it skidded to Butrico’s foot and she didn’t miss it.

South Plainfield kept the pressure on throughout the remainder of the second half, but Sayreville wouldn’t go away quietly. With four minutes to play, the 17th-seeded Bombers created their own scrum in the box, and this time they put away a loose ball. Morgan Guenther sent a shot just out of the reach of Sydni Suroweic to cut the lead in half.

The final moments were full of chaotic possessions, with neither side looking comfortable at all, but as the final whistle blew, it was South Plainfield moving one step closer to a conference title.

“I thought both teams played real hard and it was a great soccer game today between two good White Division teams,” Chiera said. “I think the girls just wanted it a little bit more today. They were very excited for this game and they came out very strong and you can never count Sayreville out.”

Friday’s matchup against an East Brunswick side that’s skidding a bit of late will be a tall task, but Chiera has no doubt her squad will come out ready to go.

“I’ll tell the girls that on any given day, anyone can win. If they get psyched up the way they did today, it should be a pretty good game,” she said. “We’re not giving up and we’re going to come out strong.”

Old Bridge girls ready for GMCT run

Just hours before last week’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament seeding meeting, the Old Bridge High School girls soccer team came up with their biggest win of the season, one that reshaped the Red Division standings.

The Knights, who have lost just once, took down rival East Brunswick 2-1 for their first victory against the perennial GMC power since 2006.

But early Friday morning, a panel of committee members awarded East Brunswick the top overall seed for the GMCT, despite the most recent victory by Old Bridge and the fact that they had one loss to East Brunswick’s three. In fact, a tie by East Brunswick against Monroe earlier this season gave the Bears one more point in the standings and allowed the committee to seed them ahead of Old Bridge.

Nonetheless, the Knights were the next team seeded and, if everything falls right, the two rivals will meet for the GMCT title Nov. 2 at Woodbridge High School.

“It’s unfortunate for us, but you have to get to the finals to win it,” Old Bridge head coach Rob Lozzi said. “I like the fact that my team may get a little tested; I want to stay sharp. There isn’t a big difference between the one and two seeds, in my opinion. Someone has to win it.”

Even though they are seeded behind them in the tournament, Old Bridge has already knocked East Brunswick from one of their perches this season. Throughout the history of the GMC, only two teams have won the Red Division title, with the Bears capturing all but two of those crowns and the Knights taking the others. With a head-to-head victory and a little bit of help, Old Bridge earned the Red Division title in 2013, with a roster that’s far from 100 percent healthy.

The Knights have been playing without 2012 first-team All-Area performer Courtney Durstewitz, who went out in the third preseason scrimmage with an injury, and starting goalkeeper Alley Mauer, who has been out for the last month with an ankle injury. But through it all, Lozzi has kept the team set on taking another crown from East Brunswick.

“Every team has to have a special group that’s a mixture of talent and chemistry and plays with a team-first approach,” Lozzi said. “This is a tight-knit group. The seniors were starters as freshmen and they’ve gotten better every year; it’s a team-centered approach. I don’t have to tell them what the goal is, they know and they wanted to leave with a Red Division title to validate the work they’ve put in. If we see them in the county finals, we have to do our job and execute and just stick to the gameplan.”

Scoring leaders

Metuchen’s Emily Corson finished the regular season with a GMC-high 33 points (19 goals, 14 assists). Carteret’s Fiorella Doglio posted 28 points (21 goals, eight assists) and teammate Ciara Alston scored the most goals in the conference this season with 24. Check out the Corner Kicks blog at http://blogs.mycentral jersey.com/soccer for a full listing of scoring leaders.

Wednesday’s GMCT schedule

17-Sayreville at 16-South Plainfield; 18-North Brunswick at 15-Colonia; 19-Timothy Christian at 14-Piscataway; 20-Cardinal McCarrick at 13-Wardlaw-Hartridge; 21-Mother Seton at 12-Carteret; 22-Middlesex at 11-Woodbridge.

First-half goals boost East Brunswick into GMCT final vs. South Plainfield

East Brunswick high school field hockey players celebrate their first goal against South Brunswick Tuesday. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

East Brunswick high school field hockey players celebrate their first goal against South Brunswick Tuesday. Photo by: Ed Pagliarini

EAST BRUNSWICK — Scoring early in a game has been a rarity for the East Brunswick High School field hockey team this season.

On Tuesday, the Bears scored three first-half goals, dfeating South Brunswick 3-0 and securing their spot in a fifth straight Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Final.

The second-seeded Bears set up a rematch with South Plainfield in Thursday’s final, to be played at East Brunswick’s Jay Doyle Field.

The Tigers beat fourth-seeded Metuchen 4-1 Tuesday.

Meagan Costello, Taylor McNamara and Rachel Huang got the East Brunswick (15-3-1) goals in the opening half to ease the pressure and provide momentum that they hadn’t had much of in first halves this season.

“ Jumping on top quick, which has been something we haven’t done much this season, that in itself gave us the momentum we needed today. That’s how we won the game, absolutely, without a doubt,” East Brunswick head coach Cindi Todoroff said.

Costello got the game’s first goal when she took a penalty corner pass from Leah Zweig and blasted it past South Brunswick goalie Lizzy Ruedemann at the 2:20 mark.

Less than seven minutes later, McNamara took a Costello pass in the middle of the field, turned to her right and shot a low shot past Ruedemann to double the lead.

Huang added an unassisted marker at the 12:51 mark to essentially put the game out of reach heading into halftime, where Todoroff didn’t really think about a potential trip to the conference finals.

“I think we were thinking about winning the second half; if you win the second half, you’re in the GMC Finals,” she said. “But to do that, we had to play our game, which is controlled hockey and we had to not get into a bang-ball game. South Brunswick stepped up and made it very difficult for us to play our game.”

The Vikings couldn’t mount a serious threat in the second half, but it wasn’t because they didn’t have chances. South Brunswick (8-3-4) earned five corners and had at least double that number of looks in front of the East Brunswick net, but couldn’t get it past Emily Polinski, who made two saves to pitch the shutout.

East Brunswick had 12 corners and 11 shots in the game, but after scoring three quick goals, they didn’t need to do much more than run out the clock.

“Unfortunately we didn’t convert a lot of the chances that we had on corners, partly due to some miscommunication, but their goalie played phenomenal hockey again,” Todoroff said.

With victories in their last nine games and 10 of their last 11, Todoroff believes her squad is playing its best hockey of the year, with a rematch against South Plainfield on the horizon. Last season, the Tigers beat East Brunswick 2-1 for the GMCT title and South Plainfield has won both regular-season meetings in 2013.

“We just need to be sharp on Thursday,” she said. “In the first game against them, Mother Nature wasn’t our friend, because we only got to play one half due to rain and lightning, and in the second game, we weren’t our friend; we outshot and out-cornered them, but made two mistakes that they converted for goals. So, hopefully everything will be on our side and we’ll be able to come out of there with a championship.”

South Plainfield 4, Metuchen 1: Shannon Hughes finished with two goals and an assist, including a tone-setter one minute into the contest, as top-seeded South Plainfield advanced to the final.

Jessica Bishop added a goal and an assist, while Charlotte Macchia added a goal for the Tigers.

Rachel Guloyya scored a goal for fourth-seeded Metuchen.

Pingry girls defend Non-Public A title; Gill St Bernard’s falls in Non-Public B

WEST WINDSOR — In convincing fashion, The Pingry School girls tennis team defended their NJSIAA Non-Public A title, routing Holy Angels, 5-0, Thursday afternoon at Mercer County Park.

The Big Blue advanced to Sunday’s Tournament of Champions, which will be at the Garden State Tennis Club in Edison.

“All the girls played great, high-level tennis today. It was tough at each position on every court,” head coach John Diaz said. “The singles were great and the doubles played their best tennis of the whole season. I think they’re starting to come together perfectly and today everything clicked for them. It was great to see.”

Madison Stevens, Christina Zajkowski and Jacquie Jakimowicz all dominated their singles matches, winning in straight sets for Pingry. Stevens took care of a pesky Adrianne Alfonso 6-1, 6-3, Zajkowski disposed of Christen Duff 6-3, 6-0 and Jakimowicz rolled through Jackie De Rocher 6-1, 6-1.

“Christina is in complete control; she had it all the way in her match and ran away with it,” Diaz said afterwards. “Jacquie is undefeated in singles matches this year and she was great again today.”

On the doubles side, Jennifer Guo and Avery Hatfield bested Eliza Haynes and Fiona Williams 6-2, 6-2, while Wesley Streicher and Tiffany Yao edged Alison Kim and Carla Nilo 6-2, 6-0.

“It’s really important for Pingry to repeat as the Non-Public A champions,” Diaz said. “We wanted to improve and win this thing again and we wanted to demonstrate that we could do it again with some new players this year.”

Gill St. Bernard’s played one of the best matches of the day against Newark Academy in the Non-Public B final, but came up just short, 3-2. It all came down to Sharon Gin in her second singles match against Hannah Gould, but the freshman ran out of gas, falling 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, in the deciding match of the day.

“She worked hard and didn’t want to give up. It was a great match and everything came down to that. It was tough, but Newark Academy deserves to win after that,” head coach Sean Welcome said. “It was close and we’re that close to them now, so that’s really good for Gill in general as a program.”

Krishna Patel won the first singles match for Gill St. Bernard’s over Rebecca Gorelov 6-1, 6-3 and the doubles tandem of Kendall Dunn and Jacqueline Fuentes toppled Sophia Busam and Danielle Sidi 6-4, 6-0.

Stephanie Fuentes fell at third singles to Crystal Wang 6-4, 6-3 and the doubles team of Lucy Dunn and Carolyn Najarian was defeated by Rakhi Kundra and Jocelyn Tolpin 6-1, 6-1. Even with the loss, Welcome acknowledged that the year was a success.

“We accomplished a lot and we won a sectional title against a really good team and we gave Newark Academy everything we had that’s a big thing for us,” he said. “We’re going to just keep pushing and keep getting better and maybe next year we can get over that hump.”

Pingry 5, Holy Angels 0

Singles: Madison Stevens (P) d. Adrianne Alfonso 6-1, 6-3; Christina Zajkowski (P) d. Christen Duff 6-3, 6-0; Jacquie Jakimowicz (P) d. Jackie De Rocher 6-1, 6-1. Doubles: Jennifer Guo and Avery Hatfield (P) d. Eliza Haynes and Fiona Williams 6-2, 6-2; Wesley Streicher and Tiffany Yao (P) d. Alison Kim and Carla Nilo 6-2, 6-0.

Newark Academy 3, Gill St. Bernard’s 2

Singles: Krishna Patel (GSB) d. Rebecca Gorelov 6-1, 6-3; Hannah Gould (NA) d. Sharon Jin 7-6 (7-4), 6-3; Crystal Wang (NA) d. Stephanie Fuentes 6-4, 6-3. Doubles: Kendall Dunn and Jacqueline Fuentes (GSB) d. Sophia Busam and Danielle Sidi 6-4, 6-0; Rakhi Kundra and Jocelyn Tolpin (NA) d. Lucy Dunn and Carolyn Najarian 6-1, 6-1.

Metuchen girls falter in NJSIAA Group I semifinals

WEST WINDSOR — After rolling through the NJSIAA Central Group I Tournament and reaching the state semifinals, the Metuchen High School girls tennis team simply ran out of gas and into a powerful opponent on Thursday as. Glen Ridge ended Metuchen’s run by sweeping the Bulldogs 5-0 at Mercer County Park.

Metuchen was behind from the start as all three of their singles players dropped the first set, winning just two games in the process. All three, however, improved in the second set, but not enough to overcome the Glen Ridge players.

Catherine Popow never got into a groove at first singles as she was upended by Kendall Smith 6-1, 6-3. Catherine’s sister Anna fell at second singles 6-0, 6-4 to Paige Moriarty and Lisa Allgauer battled hard in the second set by succumbed to Katie Frohling 6-1, 7-6.

“They got off to a slow start, but once they settled down, you could see across the board that the scores were much more competitive,” head coach Rob Strauss said. “We had opportunities to win all three singles matches, or at least force a third set, and that’s something I’m extremely proud of. It showed our character and our determination to not give up and I’m so proud of their effort to the last point.”

The doubles squads of Siri Uppuluri and Tiffany Yao, along with Laura James and Christina Michalski, were overwhelmed by Glen Ridge, the scores 6-1, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-0 respectively. But, even with the loss, Strauss knows that it’s an accomplishment to have made it this far.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these girls. They work hard and we knew we wanted to challenge ourselves with some better opponents early on and it helped us prepare for this match today. I couldn’t be more proud of all the hard work they put into this season. It’s a great group of girls to work with,” he said.

Glen Ridge 5, Metuchen 0

Singles: Kendall Smith (GR) d. Catherine Popow 6-1, 6-3; Paige Moriarty (GR) d. Anna Popow 6-0, 6-4; Katie Frohling (GR) d. Lisa Allgauer 6-1, 7-6. Doubles: Maddie Baione and Erin Carr (GR) d. Siri Uppuluri and Tiffany Yao 6-1. 6-0; Tessa Powell and Julia Tolmachyov (GR) d. Laura James and Christina Michalski 6-0, 6-0.

Monroe riding high as GMC Tournament nears

For the Monroe High School girls soccer team, the 2013 season has been all about believing that anything is possible.

With the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament less than a week away, the Falcons are playing some of the best soccer in the league, as evidenced by their victory over then-unbeaten East Brunswick last week.

Until Monday (when South Brunswick beat East Brunswick), Monroe was the only team to stay with the Bears for an entire match, and they’ve done it not once, but twice. The two teams tied on Sept. 19 and Monroe edged the Bears 2-1 last Thursday.

“I think we went in there saying we know they’ve very talented, and they might have the upper hand, but our philosophy is to play as a team,” head coach Kathy Dillon said. “We played relentlessly. It’s a constant barrage when you play East Brunswick and they’re skilled moving up the field, but the kids got very pumped up and they were at the point where we believed in ourselves and we knew we can beat any team.”

Part of the recipe for success for Monroe this season has been their balance on the score-sheet. Through Tuesday, 10 different players had scored at least one goal and seven of those players also have recorded at least one assist. In year two as a member of the Red Division, Dillon believes her squad is playing they way they’re built to.

“It’s a big step up from the White to the Red; you don’t get a break in the Red,” she said. “I think we’ve gotten to a point where we’re comfortable with each other and it’s comforting. We do have some talented players and it’s all about us stepping up and playing as a group. We do count on kids coming off the bench to score; they sit there and study the game as it’s happening and when they come in, they’re hard-nose and they run through anything.”

Dillon credits her seniors, most notably Taylor Evanchik and Demi Rousseau, for helping instill the confidence in the younger players this season.

“Taylor and Demi are the captains of this team and they’re all about the team doing well; it’s not about them, it’s about the team. The seniors deserve a lot of credit in getting the younger kids to believe in themselves and believing that anything is possible.”

Vikings rolling

South Brunswick, following in Monroe’s footsteps, became the second team to topple East Brunswick, doing so in convincing fashion on Monday afternoon, 2-0. The Vikings have now won six of their last seven games, with victories over Monroe and East Brunswick to boot. Beth Barrio’s bunch has yielded just five goals in those seven contests and with the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament rapidly approaching, South Brunswick is playing its best soccer at the right time.

Blue champions

Metuchen became the first school to wrap up a divisional crown when they edged Carteret 3-1 Monday afternoon. The Bulldogs (15-0) are the lone unbeaten team in the conference, behind a balanced scoring attack and outstanding goalkeeping.

Seeding meeting

The Home News Tribune will be live at the GMCT seeding meeting on Friday morning. A full listing of the seeds will be posted on the Corner Kicks blog at http://blogs.mycentral jersey.com/soccer

Foster records 12th straight shutout for Bishop Ahr

Bishop Ahr's Sarah Harman (left) goes up for a header during the first half of Tuesday's game. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan

Bishop Ahr’s Sarah Harman (left) goes up for a header during the first half of Tuesday’s game. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan

WOODBRIDGE — The Bishop Ahr High School girls soccer team got a pair of goals in the opening three minutes and added four insurance markers in the final 15 to walk away with a 6-0 victory over Colonia Tuesday afternoon.

The win marked the 12th straight shutout for goalkeeper Brianna Foster and the Trojans’ defense, who have allowed just one goal all season long.

Bishop Ahr (12-1) got on top 42 seconds in when Jill Vassallo crossed a perfect ball into the box that Alexa Poveliaitis knocked home and less than three minutes later, Lindsey Scarmozzino tapped home an easy goal right in front of the net to give her teammates all the insurance they needed.

“We had nice energy when we came out today, got up two and kind of relaxed a little bit. We still had control of the game and we had opportunities to add to the lead, but we didn’t finish them,” head coach Jim Tavormina said. “But, we talked at halftime and made a couple of changes and inserted a little bit of energy and started rolling.”

One of those changes was to insert Rielly Mullin to an offensive role and Mullin rewarded her coaches’ faith with a pair of second half goals. Mullin, usually a defensive player in Bishop Ahr’s lineup, converted a cross from Vassallo in the 69th minute and capped the scoring with a tap-in eight minutes later.

“We put Rielly up front and she inserted a good amount of energy up there and she got herself two goals,” Tavormina said. “We just pick each other up and we did a really nice job to finish the deal here on a very nice regular season.”

Vassallo finished with two goals and two assists on the day, the last of which came when she ran through the Colonia defense and faked out goalkeeper Juli Wright for the goal in the 72nd minute.

“I saw the ball going through and I saw the keeper coming at me and I knew I had to go strong and I just made a move around her and it was an easy finish,” Vassallo said.

Since a 1-0 loss to Old Bridge on Sept. 10, Bishop Ahr has not allowed a goal, a span that’s now well over 900 minutes of game time. They’ll have more than a week off before their first GMCT match, but Vassallo doesn’t think that’ll hurt her and her teammates.

“We just need to stay focused and we can’t lack in attention to detail and we need to stay strong in this time off that we have,” she said.

Wright finished with 15 saves for Colonia, who just could not muster an offensive threat to Foster and the rest of the Trojans’ defense.