TINTON FALLS – The 2020 season was difficult in many ways for the Monmouth Regional High School girls soccer team, as coach Devon Williams would readily acknowledge.
In addition to dealing with obstacles placed in front of them by the coronavirus pandemic, the Falcons had to play some of the best teams in the Shore Conference – Holmdel, Red Bank Catholic and Rumson-Fair Haven – twice during the regular season. Taken together, it all added up to an 0-13-1 campaign for Monmouth Regional.
“Last season was much harder playing in our hard division and having to play every (division opponent) twice,” Williams said. “This year we are excited to have a normal season and to be playing competitive games we can win.”
Williams and the Falcons believe they can be more competitive in 2021 with the talent they possess. Monmouth Regional was 2-2 heading into a match against Manasquan on Sept. 17.
The Falcons combined for 14 goals in consecutive games against the Ranney School and Long Branch High School. They shut out the Green Wave, 6-0, and then rolled to an 8-3 victory over the Panthers.
Sophomores Julia Biasi and Lauren Spence anchored the offensive explosion. Spence scored two goals against Long Branch and Biasi tallied three goals against Ranney.
Biasi scored four goals in the team’s first four matches, while Spence had three goals through four games.
Senior Caitlin Keane and freshman Jenna Chlapowski have gotten off to a nice start, Williams said. Keane has scored a goal and leads the team with three assists. Chlapowski has scored a goal and has two assists.
Junior Meadow Martelloni, freshmen Bella Emerson and Kristen Keane, and seniors Kaitlyn Spence and Katie Pharo have all scored for the Falcons in the early going.
Williams said she believes the competition throughout the roster has led to a situation in which many of the players have stepped up their level of play to start the season.
“What’s great is that we have a lot of competition on our team,” the coach said. “I think it makes us a better team.”
Senior Fatima Aw has been steady in net as the starting goalkeeper for a second straight season.
Monmouth Regional could not keep its offensive surge going against Raritan High School of Hazlet on Sept. 15 in Tinton Falls, losing 3-0 to its Shore Conference A Central Division rival.
Williams said her team struggled to make plays out wide, which was something the players did well in their previous two games, and she said they did not capitalize on any Raritan missteps.
The coach said she will be looking for the Falcons to bounce back with winnable games coming up against Manasquan and Manchester (Sept. 20).
“I hope we can keep up the energy and positive vibes to keep moving forward. We have a great schedule ahead of us where we have a lot of competitive games we can definitely win,” Williams said.
Update: Monmouth Regional dropped to 2-3 on the season with a 2-1 loss to Manasquan.