Hopewell Valley girls’ soccer team lighting up scoreboards

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Hopewell Valley Central High School girls' soccer player Emily Cooke gets in position during a game at Nottingham High School in the fall of 2018.

Hopewell Valley Central High School is a dynamic offensive team in girls’ soccer.

The Bulldogs have pumped in 60 goals in 14 games, an average of more than four per contest.

And their ability to light up the scoreboard has made them one of the best teams in New Jersey this fall, and it will make them a top contender for both the Mercer County Tournament title and the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament championship. Both are scheduled to begin later in October.

Hopewell Valley is 11-2-1 overall, 8-0-1 against Mercer County opponents and in first place in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 power points standings.

The Bulldogs have scored three goals or more in eight games. During one week in September, they scored seven goals in three consecutive contests. This team dominates possession and attacks the net relentlessly.

“They initiate the attack a lot,” said Hopewell Valley coach John McGinley. “They are good soccer players and they can distribute.”

Almost every Hopewell Valley player is a scoring threat, but junior midfielder/forward Emily DeNero has been the biggest scoring threat, with 16 goals and three assists this fall. She connected on five in a 7-1 road victory over Hightstown High School on Sept. 20.

“She’s got blazing speed but she’s skilled too,” McGinley said. “When she gets wide, she’ll set up a lot of opportunities serving the ball in the box and making runs in the box.”

Midfielders Nicola Mosionek, Sarah Yancey, Charlotte Hare, Lara Paoloni and Jamie Wills have combined for 17 goals and 24 assists. Mea Allex, Emily Cooke, Jolene Evich, Nicolette Evich, Evanna Hementez, Molly Martin, Fiona McCaffrey, Maddie Schrader and Carly Sison have all gotten on the score sheet as well.

That makes 15 players who have scored a goal or assisted on a goal for the Bulldogs this fall. Only 10 field players play in soccer. Nearly Hopewell Valley’s entire varsity roster can score.

“I don’t ever have expectations for goals or assists,” McGinley said. “I just hope they provide us with a potent attack that makes us difficult to defend.” 

Hopewell Valley is definitely difficult to defend. But even when an opponent does it well, the Bulldogs can hang in low scoring contests.

On Oct. 5 at home, Hopewell Valley was not able to pull away from the Princeton Day School, a team with a 9-1-1 record this fall. But Hopewell Valley still hung tough in the defensive struggle, tying Princeton Day 1-1 and outshooting it, 7-6.

The Bulldogs also won two games by a final score of 1-0 early in the year, over Old Bridge High School on Sept. 7 and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North on Sept. 9. Sison, a third-year starter, anchors a strong unit in the back. Freshman goalkeeper Lucy Fleming has also stepped up with a bunch of shutouts.

McGinley’s club can beat any opponent in any which way, and that will serve it well in the upcoming postseason.

“If we can defend like we’re capable of and manufacture goals, we have a shot,” McGinley said. “It’s about getting better every day and you never know what will happen.”