HOLMDEL — There have been a lot of changes in 2022 for the Holmdel High School girls soccer team.
First, Brianna Brennan became the team’s new coach. Brennan succeeds John Nacarlo, who led Holmdel to the 2021 NJSIAA Group II state championship.
Second, the Hornets had to replace nine starters from last year’s team.
Through those changes, Holmdel has not lost a beat as it tries to maintain its championship pedigree. The Hornets are 8-4 start to start the season.
“Our expectations have not changed,” said Brennan. “A lot of people in the beginning talked about this being a rebuilding year, but within our group we knew we had the talent to win a (state) sectional (tournament) title.”
Senior Taylor Bielan has provided the team with a boost following a junior campaign in which she scored 13 goals and led the Hornets with 14 assists. Thus far, Bielan has scored seven goals and contributed three assists.
“Players like (Bielan) don’t come around often,” said Brennan. “She’s one of the few four-year starters in the conference. She has a lot of experience and brings a lot of energy onto the field. We want her to do the best she can and bring out the best in the others around her.”
Sophomore Lily Reardon is the only other returning starter from 2021. Reardon is off to an impressive start in her sophomore campaign, leading the team in goals (8) and assists (4).
Sophomore Brielle McClarnon and junior Sophia Laudi have stepped up and played well in starting roles.
McClarnon and Laudi have each scored five goals; while McClarnon has added three assists and Laudi has contributed two assists.
Juniors Felicia Arena, Kathryn Naughton, Kayla Bielan and Abigail Hinds, and sophomores Julia Giamanco and Julia Chyzowych have made key contributions to the team’s successful start.
“We have a lot of young talent. We have a lot of speed. We just have to channel it together,” Brennan said.
Holmdel received the No. 11 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and will host No. 22 seed St. Rose High School of Belmar in the first round on Oct. 10.
Holmdel’s last game before the tournament was a tough 4-1 loss to Shore Regional High School of West Long Branch on Oct. 6.
Following the game, Brennan said the loss to Shore Regional, just like the other losses Holmdel has had this season, will be something her players will learn from as they head into tournament action.
Although the Hornets are young and a bit inexperienced, Brennan believes her team can make a run in the conference tournament.
“We have 12 games under our belt and are ready to go. I think we can surprise some teams in the conference tournament”, the coach said.