North Brunswick Township High School just wants to improve in girls’ soccer this year.
In 2018, the Raiders went 9-10 and lost in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament.
“If we can break .500 I’d be happy,” said North Brunswick coach Danielle Porzio before the season. “I would also like to make it another round in states. That would be nice.”
More than three weeks into the season, the Raiders are on track to achieve their goals.
They are above .500, at 5-3. They also have the ninth-most power points in Central Jersey, Group 4, out of 19 teams, and 16 will make the state playoffs.
The Raiders are good. They might even become great as the season goes on.
North Brunswick has certainly looked great in its victories, scoring four goals or more in all five of those triumphs. The Raiders beat New Brunswick High School, 7-0, on Sept. 7, Sayreville War Memorial High School, 7-3, on Sept. 10, and New Brunswick again, 5-0, on Sept. 24.
Porzio’s club can really score. It has 30 goals in eight games, an average of nearly four per contest.
Sophomore Kelly DeGaetano has nine goals and eight assists. Sophomore Akylah Hawkins has 12 goals and two assists. Senior Xaria La’Mar has five goals and four assists.
They can all thrive as scorers and distributors, and they work really well together in their second year in the same lineup.
Porzio actually moved La’Mar up to forward from the midfield because she worked well with Hawkins, already a forward, last fall. The move has worked so far in 2019.
DeGaetano remains in a center midfield spot, but she has rounded out her game this year. Last year she was a scorer, racking up 31 goals. This year she is scoring and facilitating, with almost as many assists as goals.
“I wanted Xaria to do more and I’ve liked what I’ve seen with that move,” Porzio said. “She works well with Akylah. It’s going well.”
“And Kelly just has that pure motivation to get the ball in the back of the net,” she added.
Led by DeGaetano, Hawkins and La’Mar, North Brunswick can score with anybody. But its defense has been on and off. It was great in the team’s two shutouts and even in a 1-0 loss to South Brunswick High School on Sept. 14.
But it has also allowed 15 goals in eight games, an average of almost two per contest. Beyond their scoring trio, the Raiders have five other starters back across the rest of the field.
They have the experience and talent to come together on defense. It is just a matter of becoming consistent.
Porzio is confident in her lineup as a whole, especially in her sophomore class, which makes up a significant portion of the lineup.
“My sophomore class has played together for so long,” she said. “It’s a nice camaraderie.”
North Brunswick has about a month left in the regular season to make a move for a higher seed. The NJSIAA tournament is scheduled to begin around Oct. 26 or 28.
Higher seeds will play as the hosts in the first round games. North Brunswick is aiming to be one of those higher seeds.
“Hopefully we can go further than last year,” Porzio said. “I’m excited.”