Middletown North rolls past Long Branch in tune-up for state tournament

  1 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Caroline Mascone dribbles the ball up the field during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. Middletown North defeated Long Branch 8-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  2 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Rett Schnoor races to the net during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. Schnoor scored her sixth goal of the season in the contest for the Lions.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  3 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Cassie Soldo sends the ball to the box during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. Soldo scored her first goal of the season in the team's 8-0 victory over Long Branch.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  4 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Allie O'Keefe dribbles the ball up the field during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. O'Keefe scored a goal and had three assists in the team's 8-0 victory over Long Branch. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
×
  1 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Caroline Mascone dribbles the ball up the field during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. Middletown North defeated Long Branch 8-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  2 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Rett Schnoor races to the net during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. Schnoor scored her sixth goal of the season in the contest for the Lions.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  3 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Cassie Soldo sends the ball to the box during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. Soldo scored her first goal of the season in the team's 8-0 victory over Long Branch.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  4 / 4 
Middletown High School North girls soccer player Allie O'Keefe dribbles the ball up the field during the team's game against Long Branch on Nov. 12 in Middletown. O'Keefe scored a goal and had three assists in the team's 8-0 victory over Long Branch. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The Middletown North High School girls soccer team’s performance is peaking as the 2020 regular season comes to a conclusion.

Entering the Central East Region Group C state tournament with a 7-5-1 record, the No. 4 seeded Lions are 4-0-1 in their last five matches and are playing their best soccer at the most opportunistic time.

“It’s where we want to be (as we) head into our last games and the playoffs,” Coach Patricia Misciagna said. “It’s nice to see us passing the ball well and playing together as a team. It’s good.”

Middletown North completed a dominating sweep over Long Branch High School to finish the regular season on Nov. 12 at Arnie Truex Stadium in Middletown, rolling to an 8-0 victory over the Green Waves for its fourth straight win.

The Lions scored 15 goals during their two-game sweep of Long Branch and in the regular season finale, eight players found the back of the net.

Senior Rett Schnoor started the scoring by knocking in her sixth goal of the season to put her team up 1-0. She has been outstanding in recent matches, scoring five goals in the last four matches.

“Just getting a chance to play this season (during the coronavirus pandemic) has been a good feeling,” she said. “I didn’t think we were going to have a season this year, so to play and score six goals is such a good feeling.”

Juniors Alyssa Imbriale and Molly Moore found the back of the net in the first half to extend the lead to 3-0. Imbriale scored her fourth goal of the season and Moore scored her first goal of the campaign.

Senior Stephanie Malick started a five-goal second half by scoring her first goal of the season. The senior did it in style, dribbling down the left sideline and going all the way to the net before putting home her first goal of the year for a 4-0 lead.

Senior Allie O’Keefe assisted on Malick’s goal and also helped Schnoor score the game’s first goal with a nice pass to her senior teammate. O’Keefe finished with three assists on the day to extend her team lead to nine assists. She scored her sixth goal to give the Lions a 5-0 lead.

“I’m just trying to make the most of everything and scoring is the best thing ever,” O’Keefe said. “It’s all about the team. It’s a team effort. They are all helping me and everyone connects. It’s teamwork. We are all doing well.”

Senior Ashley Dietrich leads the team with seven goals and has added four assists.

After the team’s slow start, Dietrich said she believes the players have come together well over the past few weeks.

“I think we can make a good run in states and make it to the finals,” Dietrich said. “We are closer together and a strong team now. I’m happy with what I have been able to do for the team in a short season.”

Sophomore Ava Mescall and seniors Grace Inacio and Cassie Soldo each recorded their first goal of the season to finish out Middletown North’s seventh victory of the year.

During the final minutes of the contest, Misciagna made sure all of the seniors who had dressed for the match were on the field together.

The coach said she made the move because she wanted to make sure all of her senior players had one last moment on their home field since nothing is guaranteed going forward due to the pandemic.

“Each game we get in is nice and in the event that maybe this is our last game and our last home game, I just wanted to give them one last chance to be out there,” Misciagna said of her senior players.

“It’s their last year, so it was really nice they were able to get some games in and have a season. That is what I feel the happiest about,” she said.

Misciagna said she believes her players have accomplished the most important thing they could have done this fall by playing a full season. She said every opportunity to be on the field is a blessing for her and the team.

Most importantly, the ninth-year coach has seen her players appreciate and love soccer even more as they played during the pandemic.

“I think they are happy to have had a season and they appreciate the sport and their team a little bit more than usual this year,” Misciagna said. “They are a nice group of players who play well together. We are just looking to take things one game at a time and see what happens from there.”

Middletown North is scheduled to host Toms River South on Nov. 18 in Central East Region Group C state tournament action.