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J.P. Stevens girls’ soccer team motivated by defeat

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The John P. Stevens High School girls’ soccer team will rely on a loss to move on this season.

Old Bridge High School delivered a 5-0 loss to J.P. Stevens on Sept. 14 in Old Bridge, but the Hawks will use that defeat as a motivating factor.

“I think that we’re going to take this loss and use it to motivate us for the next game,” senior midfielder Caitlyn Shannon said. “[Old Bridge is] a good team. They’re top in the [Greater Middlesex Conference] Red Division right now, and we held them to 1-0 the entire first half. We had a really good first half. We were determined. We played hard the entire first half. We did everything that a good soccer team does. I think that it gave us the confidence that, ‘OK, we can play like this.’ So that’s going to motivate us a lot moving forward.”

“[This is going to motivate us] 100 percent,” senior goalie Sarah Zimmer said. “This whole team doesn’t like to lose. So we’re going to bring it next game, and we’re going to bring it hard.”

The Hawks trailed by just a 1-0 score to Old Bridge at halftime, but the Edison school was dominated in the second half when the host Knights scored four times and ended with a 25-6 advantage in shots on goal for the entire game.

J.P. Stevens head coach Lisa Dato thought her team came in with a good game plan.

“The first half was much better than the second half,” Dato said. “We held a really strong team to one goal in the first half. We were doing everything that we were supposed to do: passing to feet, holding defensive players back from scoring and making some nice through passes of our own to score.”

Dato felt her squad ran into a road block after intermission.

“I think we ran out of gas,” Dato said. “I think that we weren’t thinking clearly with our positioning.”

Dato is still optimistic about the team and its potential.

“When everybody’s healthy and we’re playing well, we’re a really good team,” Dato said. “They’re definitely a lot of positives. We have a lot of strong players — players that can put the ball in the net. It’s just waiting for that time when it actually comes together. So, hopefully, it turns around for the second half of the season.”

Dato also stated that her expectations for the season will not waiver despite the slow start. After the loss, the team dropped to 1-4.

“I always have high expectations for them,” Dato said. “We just have to put it all together.”

Zimmer, who made six saves against Old Bridge, remains confident.

“In the first half, I saw a lot of passing to feet and creating great crosses,” Zimmer said. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it in the net.”

“If we can just communicate better, we can be a real threat,” senior midfielder Serena Zilli said.

“I say the same thing,” Shannon said. “If we can, especially in the attacking third, create more passes and give-and-go’s, and more passes to feet, and try to take on more players instead of just trying to cross the ball in the air and actually play with each other a little more, we can create a lot of chances. We have a lot of dangerous players up top.”

J.P. Stevens looked to use the motivation gained from the loss to Old Bridge in its game scheduled against Jonathan Dayton High School of Springfield Township on Sept. 18. The Hawks were also slated to face Monroe Township High School on the road on Sept. 19. They travel to South Brunswick High School on Sept. 26 for a game at 3:45 p.m.

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