Lawrence girls’ soccer team returning majority of talent for this fall

Lawrence High School was an interesting girls’ soccer team a year ago.

The Cardinals finished 9-7-2 and lost in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament, 1-0 to Burlington Township High School. It was a classic good but not great season.

But if you look at Lawrence’s 2018 goal differential of 43-23, the Cards seem like they were a great team. That’s because they were great in their nine victories, winning by margins such as 6-0, 5-2 and 3-0. Lawrence earned seven of its nine victories by multiple goals.

It just wasn’t consistent enough to to put up a great record and go deep in the postseason.

Those will be the goals for the 2019 season, but they are lofty aspirations, and the Cardinals will face some challenges in trying to pull them off.

For starters, after the 2018 campaign, Lawrence lost three key scorers, Sarah Berardi, Evelin Dapprich and Emily Mihov, to graduation. That trio combined for 24 goals and 17 assists a year ago.

Lawrence also lost its starting goalkeeper, Antonia Karpontinis, to graduation after the ’18 campaign. The keeper recorded six shutouts last fall and even kept the Cards in a lot of games they ended up losing, as Lawrence dropped three contests by a 1-0 final score.

Those are top of the roster losses, but the Cards are at least bringing back one top level performer from last season. Junior Lauren Edgar was an excellent dual threat offensive player as a sophomore, registering eight goals and five assists.

She was consistent, too, posting at least one point in 10 different games. The junior will be counted on to lead the attack in 2019.

But for all the top level losses, Lawrence is returning most of the rest of its roster from last year. Out of 20 varsity players from 2018, only four were seniors. Six were juniors, nine were sophomores and one, midfielder Mackenzie Esposito, was a freshman.

So Lawrence has most of its varsity roster back from a good team. Now it just has to learn how to become consistent and great. That will be difficult without last year’s top performers, but it’s possible since so many young players got varsity experience in 2018.

Lawrence began its 2019 regular season on Sept. 5 at home versus Steinert High School. It will continue its season with two straight road games, on Sept. 7 and Sept. 10, respectively, at Cranford High School and at Trenton Central High School. Then the Cardinals will return home for a Sept. 12 date with West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North.

The Cardinals will play two or three games per week through their regular season finale on Oct. 24 at Pemberton Township High School. They should be playing beyond that, too.

The NJSIAA playoffs are scheduled to open on Oct. 26 or 28. The state group finals are slated for Nov. 16 at Kean University in Union.

It will be hard for Lawrence to get that far. It will be hard for anyone to get that far, for that matter. But the Cards, with a lot of talent back, will at least have a fighting chance this fall.