By Jimmy Allinder
The East Brunswick High School girls’ soccer team has always believed the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament championship is its birthright.
Ever since the then-Middlesex County Tournament was first played in 1979 (renamed the GMC Tournament in 1984), the Bears have claimed 29 titles and have tied for the crown three times. That means in the history of the tournament, another team captured the title five times and once did East Brunswick not play in the finals.
Understandably, when the Bears lost to South Brunswick High School, 1-0, in 2015, the defeat did not sit well with those associated with the storied program, which has produced many outstanding players, including U.S. Women’s Olympic team star Heather O’Reilly. The Bears’ faithful wouldn’t have been blamed either when the seeding committee awarded the top seed to Old Bridge High School even though second-seeded East Brunswick defeated the Knights in both regular-season games by 2-1 and 3-0 scores.
However, it’s what takes place on the field that matters, and justice was served in the collective minds of the East Brunswick players when they met and defeated South Brunswick in this season’s championship game. The score was a workmanlike 2-0, with both goals coming from forward Sabria Glasgow.
That Glasgow netted both scores was not surprising considering she leads the Bears with 17 goals and has eight assists. The junior, however, is not the only dynamic player for the Bears. Kevin Brady, 11-year head coach, said senior Katrina Nguyen-Demary is an instinctive offensive catalyst who has a knack for making key passes to springboard the attack. She also has a team-leading 17 assists to go with seven goals.
With a lineup featuring an abundance of youth, including sophomore Jessica DiMatteo, who has eight goals and five assists, plus Glasgow’s return, East Brunswick will look to build on its success.
The Bears were seeded fourth in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament and hosted 13th-seeded Hightstown High School in the first round Nov. 1. If victorious, East Brunswick hosts the winner of the match between fifth-seeded Colts Neck High School and 12th-seeded Monroe Township High School (8-10) Nov. 4.
Ninth-seeded South River High School (11-5-3) traveled to Riverside High School in a Central Jersey, Group I game Nov. 1. And in Central Jersey, Group II, sixth-seeded Spotswood High School (11-6) hosted 11th-seeded North Plainfield High School Nov. 1.
In the boys’ state tournament, fourth-seeded Monroe (15-3-1), which won the GMC Red Division title two weeks ago, knocked off 13th-seeded West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, 2-0, Oct. 31 in Central Jersey, Group IV.
With the victory, the Falcons will host fifth-seeded Trenton Central High School Nov. 3. The Tornadoes defeated 12th-seeded Edison High School, 4-2, Oct. 31.
Sixteenth-seeded East Brunswick (8-10-1) saw its season end when top-seeded Hunterdon Central Regional High School edged the Bears, 1-0, Oct. 31, in Central Jersey, Group IV. In Central Jersey, Group II, fifth-seeded Spotswood (14-5), which earlier won the GMC Blue Division title, defeated 12th-seeded Voorhees High School, 4-2, Oct. 31. The Chargers will host 13th-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Nov. 3. The Shore Conference team upset fourth-seeded North Plainfield, 3-1, Oct. 31.
In Central Jersey Group I, defending champion South River (13-4-1), which is seeded fourth this year, shut out 13th-seeded Point Pleasant Beach High School, 2-0, Oct. 31. The Rams host fifth-seeded Bound Brook High School Nov. 3 in the next round. The Crusaders advanced by defeating 13th-seeded Manville High School, 5-1, Oct. 31.
All girls’ semifinal matches will be played Nov. 8, and the finals are Nov. 11 at the site of the highest remaining seed. All boys’ semifinals games will be held Nov. 7, and the finals are Nov. 10 — also at the site of the highest remaining seed.