New coach has Rebels shooting for winning soccer record in 2021

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Howell High School girls soccer player Ashley Smith tries to advance the ball up the field during a game against Freehold Township on Sept. 29 in Freehold. Howell lost to Freehold Township by the score of 4-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School girls soccer player Madelyn Miller steals the ball from Freehold Township's Gaby Parker during a game played on Sept. 29 in Freehold. Howell lost 4-0. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School girls soccer player Jade Vieira passes the ball across the field to a teammate during a game against Freehold Township on Sept. 29 in Freehold. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School girls soccer player Ashley Smith tries to advance the ball up the field during a game against Freehold Township on Sept. 29 in Freehold. Howell lost to Freehold Township by the score of 4-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School girls soccer player Madelyn Miller steals the ball from Freehold Township's Gaby Parker during a game played on Sept. 29 in Freehold. Howell lost 4-0. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School girls soccer player Jade Vieira passes the ball across the field to a teammate during a game against Freehold Township on Sept. 29 in Freehold. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

First-year coach Miguel Arroyo is ready to change the recent fortunes of the Howell High School girls soccer program.

After spending 15 years as an assistant coach in the Howell boys soccer program, Arroyo has switched gears this fall to lead the girls varsity squad, which he believes has the talent to win some matches this season.

“We do have a lot of talent,” Arroyo said. “All of the girls work hard and are starting to learn how to play the game together. We are going to learn as we go and hopefully get a couple of victories along the way.”

Through eight matches the Rebels were 3-5, which matches the team’s win total from 2020.

In 2015, the Rebels were 9-7. In 2016, Howell was 8-8. The Rebels have had a losing record in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and are trying to reverse course this fall.

The goal for Arroyo and his players is to finish the 2021 campaign with a non-losing record and to try to earn berths in the Shore Conference tournament and in the state sectional tournament.

“I am hoping to make it to the state tournament and to finish with at least a .500 record,” Arroyo said. “That has been our goal from the start. If we are able to achieve that, it’s a win.”

Howell started slowly, losing to Southern Regional, Manalapan and Middletown North.

Since then the Rebels have played better soccer. Their wins include a 2-1 upset over Colts Neck on Sept. 17. Junior Riley Borenstein scored twice as Howell won for the first time in 2021.

Through eight matches, Borenstein had scored three goals to pace the team.

On Sept. 23, the Rebels rolled over Long Branch, defeating the Green Wave 7-0. Jade Vieira, Lilly Marion, Leila Oshiro, Madelyn Miller, Alexandra Gold, Ashley Smith and Samantha Carruth all scored for Howell.

A 3-0 loss followed to Trinity Hall, before the Rebels earned their third victory of the season on Sept. 28 against St. Rose High School of Belmar. Miller scored in the ninth minute and Samantha Villa scored in the 15th minute to help the Rebels defeat the Purple Roses, 2-1.

“I think the players are starting to believe we are pretty good, too, and that we can win some games and we can shock some people on the way,” Arroyo said.

On Sept. 29, Howell faced Shore Conference A North Division foe Freehold Township, which was unbeaten when the teams met, and fell to the Patriots, 4-0.

Arroyo said he thought that during the first half the Rebels showed they could play with one of the top teams in the conference. Freehold Township led 1-0 at halftime before the Patriots took control in the final 40 minutes of the match.

“It’s a learning experience,” the coach said. “We had them 1-0 and had a couple of opportunities to get back in it. You have to start believing you can win games and I think we can do that.”

Howell will play at Toms River North High School on Oct. 1 and at Central Regional High School in Bayville on Oct. 4.