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Red Division girls’ soccer teams have a lot of firepower

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J.P. Stevens

An offense that is guided by some key veterans should help John P. Stevens High School’s girls’ soccer team rebound from last season’s 4-15 record.

Lisa Dato, who is entering her seventh season as the Hawks’ coach, will lean on the offense to produce victories.

“We have numerous offensive threats on our team this year,” Dato said. “We are hoping to capitalize on this and score many goals this season. Our team consists of 10 seniors (eight returnees), so we are anticipating strong leadership on the field from our key experienced players and captains.”

Meshing together the senior players with a strong sophomore class will be a vital objective for Dato to achieve.

“Our roster consists of mostly sophomores and seniors,” Dato said. “Our biggest challenge will be to establish chemistry and organization on the field among the inexperienced players and our veteran players. With a year under their belts for the underclassmen, we are hoping to see them come out stronger this year.”

One sophomore who will be called on often is forward Kirsten Borja.

“Borja was injured for most of last season,” Dato said. “We are excited to see her talent displayed on the field this season.”

Among the seniors who will be key cogs are Caitlyn Shannon, a midfielder; Mikhayla Sabo, a midfielder; Serena Zilli, a defender; and Sarah Zimmer, a goalie. A junior who will be asked to contribute is midfielder Ava Dul.

“Shannon, our returning senior captain, scored 12 goals and had three assists last season,” Dato said. “We are looking to increase the number of goals she scores this season. Sabo and Dul led our season with assists in 2016. We are hoping to see them continue this as outside midfielders in 2017. Zilli and Zimmer command strong leadership on the field. We are certain that they will help transition the newcomers to our style of play.”

The Hawks open their season at home against South River High School on Sept. 5 at 3:45 p.m.

Old Bridge

A strong balance between the veterans and younger players could result in a very successful girls’ soccer season this fall at Old Bridge High School.

A firm believer in that is head coach Robert Lozzi, who will enter his 19th season at Old Bridge.

“We have a well-balanced team,” Lozzi said. “We have a strong senior group back that has been playing together for the last four years on varsity. We also have a blend of strong underclassmen that will hopefully propel us to division and conference championships.”

The Knights posted a 12-5-1 record in 2016, when Old Bridge placed second in the Greater Middlesex Conference’s Red Division. Old Bridge also advanced to the quarterfinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament and qualified for the Central Jersey, Group 4 state tournament.

“I am expecting contributions from our entire team,” Lozzi said. “I am relying on every member of the team pushing their teammate in practice and in games. We are not a one-dimensional team relying on a key scorer or a key defensive player. I am focusing our team on being balanced and everyone playing offense and defense. We want multiple threats on offense and everyone playing defense.”

Contributors to that balanced attack will be Julia Sandor, MacKenzie Willis, Dominique Lovallo, Erin Rynkiewicz, Mackenzie Cangro, Sydney Addesso and Nichole Adams.

The Knights open their season at Woodbridge High School on Sept. 5 at 4 p.m.

South Brunswick

Entering her 11th year as head coach, Beth Barrio is excited about the prospects of her youthful team at South Brunswick High School.

“Our youth will be our greatest strength,” Barrio said.

The Vikings come off a 10-7-1 season, during which they qualified for the Central Jersey, Group 4 state tournament. South Brunswick fell in the first round of the state tournament to Princeton High School.

“Our only concern is our inexperience,” Barrio said. “We’re confident in our players, but naturally when you’re as young as we are, their inexperience is something you always have to think about.”

Barrio will call upon the experience of senior defender Alex Zubarev and juniors Riley Ratcliffe, a defender, and Cathlene Kaseta, a midfielder.

The Vikings will start their season on Sept. 5 at 4 p.m. at home against Edison High School.

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