Win over rival advances Spotswood in GMC soccer tourney

soccer ball

By Jimmy Allinder

Spotswood High School has been a fierce rival with South River High School for decades.

That stands to reason because before Spotswood opened the doors to its high school in 1977, students went to South River. However, the Chargers have another rivalry, one which has produced memorable sports moments in its 39-history — neighboring Monroe Township High School.

So when Spotswood’s girls’ soccer team (9-5) met the Falcons (6-9-1) Oct. 22, competitive juices flowed like a river spilling over its banks.

For that and other reasons, the 2-1 victory by the 11th-seeded Chargers against the sixth-seeded Falcons in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) girls’ soccer tournament was a cause for celebration.

Spotswood hosted 15th-seeded Colonia High School Oct. 25 in the quarterfinals, with the winner advancing to the semifinals at Sayreville War Memorial High School Oct. 27 to face the survivor of the match between second-seeded East Brunswick High School and 10th-seeded Wardlaw-Hartridge School Oct. 25.

Spotswood girls soccer coach Mike Reid said the win over the Falcons was very satisfying because it came against a larger-school Red Division team.

“Since we’re in the Blue Division and [Monroe] is in the Red Division, we don’t meet now unless it’s the GMCs,” Reid said. “To beat them is a huge confidence builder.”

Reid said the satisfaction comes from seeing his team’s hard work and preparation result in a victory against a team that’s better than its record might indicate.

“The girls stuck to the game plan and worked hard throughout the match,” he said. “As a smaller school, the feeling is there’s always something to prove against bigger schools. That’s been our attitude throughout the tournament, and it will continue when the state tournament begins.”

Reid said his team improved immeasurably when senior captain Erin Thuring returned from a knee injury earlier in the season.

“Since she came back, her leadership, experience, and drive have been an inspiration,” he said. “She had talent as a freshman, and she’s put it all together now that’s she’s a senior. Erin is truly one of the best players in the conference.”

Thuring leads in goals (11) and assists (six) and deposited the game-winner against Monroe. She is surrounded by a strong supporting cast. Senior captain Lizzie Vignuolo has been stellar in goal (102 saves) along with a solid defense in front of her, which includes senior captain Lauren Kiszkiel, Michaela Robinson, Sarah Marotta, and Kaylee Leanard.

Senior captain Danielle Wittig (three goals, three assists), Mary Beth Barnofsky, Amber Meagher (four goals, five assists) and Amy Warnebold have improved as a midfield tandem, and the front line trio of Carolina Fernandez (five goals, four assists), Alex Reilly (four goals, two assists) and Miranda Wells (one goal, four assists) have combined for a strong attack. Athena Xipolias, Meghan Gallagher, Gina Ridgeway and Megan McCook have also played important minutes.

In another girls’ GMC Tournament match, East Brunswick advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Timothy Christian School, 3-0, which propelled the Bears to their meeting with Wardlaw-Hartridge.

In the boys’ tournament, East Brunswick (No. 6 seed) was the lone area team still in contention. The Bears advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating 11th-seeded John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, 1-0, and visited third-seeded South Plainfield High School Oct. 25.

Top-seeded Monroe saw its hopes for a title dashed in the first round when it was upset by 16th-seeded Sayreville. South River (No.12 seed) defeated Highland Park High School (No. 21 seed), 3-2, in the preliminary round but was eliminated by fifth-seeded South Brunswick High School, 3-1 in the first round.

Seventh-seeded Spotswood (12-4) was also eliminated in the first round when it dropped a 3-2 decision to 10th-seeded North Brunswick Township High School. Forward Nick Moran has scored 30 goals and is third in the state.

The boys’ semifinals are set for Oct. 27 at South Brunswick, and the finals are Oct. 29 at Woodbridge High School.

The girls’ tournament semifinals are slated for Oct. 27 at Sayreville, and the finals will also be played at Woodbridge Oct. 29 prior to the boys championship game.

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