Barrons hope to get back to winning in GMC soccer playoffs

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By Jeff Appelblatt

Last season, Woodbridge High School’s boys’ soccer team was only able to put up three wins, so when this year’s club already doubled that number before September ended, things were so much better in the locker room.

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But the switch to October hasn’t been easy for the Barrons. Following one tie and one victory, the team stumbled through the month with four straight losses.

Coach Anthony Clarke hopes his players aren’t hanging their heads low entering into the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) playoffs, though. He knows his team needs to play as well as possible against its first opponent, Sayreville War Memorial High School, even though the teams’ regular-season records were almost identical.

“They’re a tough matchup,” Clarke said about Sayreville.

And he and the Barrons know a lot about what to expect from the Bombers.

“Last week, we played a tough game with them,” Clarke said, thinking back to the 4-3 loss in Sayreville Oct. 11. “And we had a tough game with them earlier in the season.

Woodbridge won, 3-0, against Sayreville, Sept. 22.

Since that first matchup, the Barrons won only three of 10 games, while the Bombers won four of seven. Aside from being the better-ranked team, No. 16 Sayreville has even more confidence leaning on its side entering into the GMC battle with No. 17-seed Woodbridge Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.

With that in mind, Clarke was eager for his team to pick up a win Oct. 17 vs. Union Catholic High School, even though the final regular-season game didn’t have much meaning on paper.

“We’ve said for a while that we want to get as close to .500 as we can,” the coach said.

A win against Union Catholic would have meant the Barrons basically hit that mark, finishing the season with eight wins and eight losses.

And Clarke could have been bothered with the rankings. Playing in the No. 16 vs. No. 17 matchup, the second round would be played against the tournament’s top seed, Monroe Township High School.

But the second-year coach wants to take it one game at a time. Woodbridge would have to get past many great teams in order to make any noise in the tournament.

“If you want to win the tournament, you have to beat them all anyway,” Clarke said. “We’re in a great division. But we’re not scared of anyone. Whoever we play, we play.”

Clarke just knows for his team to compete with anyone in the division, he’ll need Elijah Hosein and Dawid Supinski to remain at the top of their games. Hosein, who led the Barrons with nine goals and five assists heading into the game with Union Catholic nailed three shots in the last contest with Sayreville. Supinski, who was recently named the best goalkeeper in the GMC, meanwhile, has prevented about five shots per game from getting into the net behind him.

“[Hosein] has been doing well. He’s used his skill, used his speed. He’s improved so much,” Clarke said. “[Supinski] has stabilized our defense in the back, and he has helped us go forward.

“Our defense has often kept us in games. We have a lot of kids that have continually played with so much energy.”

Woodbridge will need to continue with the energy. Nothing the team has done prior to the GMC Tournament matters anymore. Each game will determine how many more games the Barrons will get to play. One loss, and things are over until the state competition.

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