By Warren Rappleyea
After picking up its second Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) championship in three years, North Brunswick Township High School looks to make it three out of four this spring.
The Raiders will once again be strong in the middle with four-year starter Victoria Tucci leading the way. Tucci has career totals of 177 goals, with 77 of those coming last season, and assisted on another 110 tallies.
Defensive stalwart Cassie Oake, a junior who scored five times last season, will see plenty of time in the middle this spring, but coach Danielle Bussiere could move Oake back as situations dictate. Senior Rhica Austin and freshman Julia Davies round out the midfield corps.
North Brunswick also returns talented netminder Natalie Chapman. The junior made 171 saves a year ago and was a steady presence in front of the net. Chapman’s veteran presence should help a youthful, but talented, defense that includes junior Rachel Kim and sophomores Renee Hales, Taysla Jimenez and Keira Welsh. Senior Victoria Burrows is the reserve goalkeeper.
Although the Raiders have boasted plenty of offense in recent seasons, Bussiere has always stressed team defense. Last season, North Brunswick allowed just 156 goals against over its 24 games.
Despite the graduation of leading scorers Tatum Altman and Samantha Mehalick, there is plenty of firepower on the attack. Sophomore Hayley Greenberg scored 10 goals and added three assists. Elena Vargas contributed nine goals and four assists, and junior Katie Panitch contributed six tallies and one assist. Nicolette Gutierrez, Ianna Sukhram and freshman Katherine Manley will also play on the front line.
North Brunswick was scheduled to open the season with a non-conference match at Voorhees High School March 29 and visits North Hunterdon High School March 31 before hosting Old Bridge High School April 1.