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Woodbridge hopes to work as team to move past loss in opener

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Woodbridge High School head boys’ soccer coach Anthony Clarke’s only expectation heading into the Barrons’ first game of the season against Edison High School was to come together as a team.

“It’s our first game of the season,” Clarke said prior to the contest on Sept. 7. “I want us to go through it as a team — win as a team, lose as a team. Whatever we do, we have to do it together. A loss in the first game doesn’t ruin your season. A win would be great though.”

Clarke, who is in his fourth year as Woodbridge’s head coach, has his sights set on a long playoff run at the end of the season. Last season, the Barrons lost in the preliminary round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament to Sayreville War Memorial High School and to Elizabeth High School in the first round of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 state tournament.

“The expectation is to do better than last year,” Clarke said. “We qualified for the state tournament for the first time in a long time. So that would be a great requirement for this year, in terms of expectations and progression. In terms of the conference and the division, we won’t know until we get started. We just want to win as many games as possible.”

The Barrons got off to a rough start to the season, losing the season opener to Edison, 4-2. The Barrons took a very early 2-0 lead, but they relinquished it by halftime and failed to score in the second half.

“We need to be less predictable,” Clarke said. “We need to move the ball around. We need play with a little more energy. At times, we get down on ourselves. We started great, but we have to keep it up.”

The game was physical, and several players received yellow cards. Two players even received red cards. One of the Barrons’ players left the game with a dislocated finger.

Clarke admitted that the game was rough for both teams, so the physicality can’t be used as an excuse.

“We prefer it to be a less aggressive game,” Clarke said. “It’s hard when yellow cards are given out so early in the game. It’s hard to get your guys to calm down because every challenge will result in a yellow card. At the end of the day, they have to keep challenging. You can’t stop challenging over fear of a yellow card.”

Barrons forward Peter Flomo scored both goals for Woodbridge. Flomo, who is a junior, has a bright future for Woodbridge, although Clarke believes that they might put too much on his plate sometimes.

“Obviously, he’s a great scoring threat,” Clarke said. “We’re too predicable when we play through him right now. We’ve got other talented players that need to get the ball. But he can be a great player for us.”

Clarke still believes that despite the loss, the Barrons can still have a great season.

“One game is not going to decide where we end,” Clarke said. “We put it right on the practice ground and move on. We have two games next week. We also play Edison again, so we’re not worried.”

Woodbridge was unable to get on a winning path when it traveled to Holmdel High School on Sept. 9. Holmdel picked up a 7-1 victory, and it led, 5-0, at halftime. Senior Andrew Fuentes scored the lone goal for Woodbridge in the second half.

The Barrons were scheduled to hold their home opener against Colonia High School on Sept. 12 and will head to John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Iselin on Sept. 14 for a game at 4 p.m.

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