Jackson Liberty Lions show scoring touch during early soccer matches

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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Seanna Boan fights off Manchester's Brooke Kuhmichel for the loose ball during a game played on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Jackson Liberty won 8-0. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Chelsea Lavezzo kicks the ball up the field during a game against Manchester on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Lavezzo scored a game-high four goals in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Kristina Gunusen dribbles the ball past Manchester's Amanda Rosenthal during a game played on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Gunusen scored a goal and had an assist in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Brooke Ossimina passes the ball up the field during a game against Manchester on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Jackson Liberty won 8-0. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Seanna Boan fights off Manchester's Brooke Kuhmichel for the loose ball during a game played on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Jackson Liberty won 8-0. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Chelsea Lavezzo kicks the ball up the field during a game against Manchester on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Lavezzo scored a game-high four goals in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Kristina Gunusen dribbles the ball past Manchester's Amanda Rosenthal during a game played on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Gunusen scored a goal and had an assist in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer player Brooke Ossimina passes the ball up the field during a game against Manchester on Sept. 22 in Jackson. Jackson Liberty won 8-0. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The Jackson Liberty High School girls soccer team has been scoring goals at an impressive pace at the beginning of the 2021 campaign.

During their first four matches, the Lions (3-1) scored 20 goals, including eight goals by five players during an 8-0 win over Manchester in a Shore Conference B South Division match on Sept. 22.

The offense has impressed Coach Dana Costello, who is in her third season at the helm of the Lions.

Costello, who played at Jackson Memorial High School and helped lead the Jaguars to the Group IV state title in 2009, believes her Jackson Liberty squad has what it takes to reach that same level of achievement and to have an outstanding season.

“It’s been a great start,” Costello said. “To come out and score the amount of goals we have scored is unbelievable. You have a sophomore in Chelsea Lavezzo and a junior in Alyssa Galayda stepping up and scoring goals. We have role players scoring goals. It’s all coming together at the right time.”

Against Manchester, Lavezzo scored three goals to complete her second consecutive hat trick.

“I feel pretty good right now,” Lavezzo said after the Lions’ win over the Hawks. “We all play well together. We have a good connection and a good bond with each other. We are finding ways to get the ball in the back of the net.”

Lavezzo scored her fourth goal of the match late in the second half. Her first seven goals of the season came in the Lions’ third and fourth matches.

As a freshman in 2020, Lavezzo led the team with 12 goals. She said she is proud of what she has been able to accomplish so far in 2021 and hopes there is more to come to help the Lions win more games this fall.

“I’m gaining more confidence as a player,” Lavezzo said. “I’m happy with how I’m playing, but not satisfied. I think I can play better and help our team get more wins.”

Against Manchester, senior Kristina Gunusen scored her second goal of the season in the 30th minute as the Lions took a 4-0 lead at halftime. The goal came on a free kick from 25 yards.

Gunusen also had an assist and led the team with four assists through four matches.

Early in the second half, Seanna Boan scored her third goal of the season with a nice assist from Delaney Spalthoff for a 5-0 lead. The assist was Spalthoff’s third of the season.

 

Galayda became the fourth Jackson Liberty player to score against the Hawks when she hit the back of the net in the 60th minute. Her third goal of the season gave the Lions a 6-0 lead.

Junior Allison Wehner made it 7-0 when she scored her fourth goal of the season.

The Lions will travel to play Central Regional in Bayville on Sept. 24 before lining up for a B South showdown with Donovan Catholic in Toms River on Sept. 28.

Costello said a victory against either opponent would be a “signature win” for the program.

“We are trying to find the one win that is going to put us in the Top 10 in the Shore Conference or just put us on the radar,” the coach said. “I want other teams to understand that playing us is not a joke. I am excited to see what we can do.”

Costello said that in her third year as the Lions’ coach, she is starting to see her message and philosophies translate on the field through her players.

Playing through a season that was cut short by COVID-19 in 2020 made the process a little rough, she acknowledged, but the coach knows her players are buying into what she wants the Lions’ program to be about.

“I have a great class of girls who have come in and they really have bought into what I want our program to be about and it’s showing out on the field,” Costello said.