Hopewell Valley Central High School enjoyed a great girls’ soccer season last fall.
With just about everybody back for 2019, the Bulldogs should be great again this fall.
But they did suffer one great disappointment in 2018, losing the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament championship game to Brick Township High School in penalty kicks. This year, the Bulldogs have one goal: Win that sectional tournament championship game.
They opened their regular season on Sept. 4 with a 6-0 home victory over Trenton Central High School. Hopewell Valley will play four games over the next week as its season kicks into high gear.
The Bulldogs expect to win all of those games.
The talented club has eight starters back from 2018, including leading scorer Nicola Mosionek, second leading scorer Emily DeNero, center midfielder Emily Cooke, fourth year starting defender Charlotte Hare, third year starting defender Carly Sison and a goalkeeper, Braylee Walters, who gave up one combined goal in three state sectional tournament victories last year. Starting forward Sarah Yancey and starting defender Mea Allex are also back from the 2018 lineup.
“We have a good core group back,” said Hopewell Valley coach John McGinley.
Mosionek and DeNero were a dynamic scoring tandem a year ago. Mosionek registered 15 goals and 10 assists. DeNero added eight goals and five assists.
Mosionek, who did all that as a freshman last fall, has it all as a player. Skills, size, vision and “a great mind for the game,” McGinley said. DeNero, who was only a sophomore last fall, is a high striker with blazing speed. She can make plays down the center and down the side of the pitch, wherever she has space.
“If she gets in space, no one will catch her,” McGinley said.
Yancey benefitted a lot from playing with two great playmakers in 2018, scoring six goals. She should benefit from the same setup in 2019. Cooke helped Hopewell Valley create and maintain possessions last fall, but she also pitched in on the score sheet, contributing four goals and four assists.
All those players are in the same positions this year, and now they are even more used to playing together. The Bulldogs scored 70 goals in 2018, or nearly three per game. They could light it up even more in 2019.
“They’ll put a lot of pressure on teams, keep them honest and prevent them from focusing on one player,” McGinley said.
Hopewell Valley won’t even need to score a ton to win. The team’s defensive unit, among Hare, Sison, Allex and Walters, has a combined seven seasons of varsity starting experience.
They are talented, too.
Hare and Sison consistently win balls and transition them back up the field. Walters made a ton of big saves during those state sectional tournament victories, which all came by one goal.
“Our defenders initiate the attack a lot,” McGinley said. “They are soccer players.”
Hopewell Valley does not have a weakness. The Bulldogs are one of the best teams in central Jersey and a legitimate state sectional title contender. They might even be a contender for more than that.
“It depends on how much better we get,” McGinley said. “We should be better in October and November than we are now.”