Letdown doesn’t shut down South girls soccer team in win over Metuchen

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   The South Brunswick High School girls soccer team learned a valuable lesson in Monday’s 5-1 Greater Middlesex Conference non-division victory at Metuchen this past Monday: no matter how big the lead, don’t assume the game is over.
   The Vikings felt they had the game well in hand when they found themselves up 3-0 at halftime. But Bulldog Kristen Edmonds surprised South Brunswick when she scored early in the second period off a feed from Shannon Ruegger.
   "It was kind of an eye-opener that we couldn’t let up at all," Viking head coach Nancy Ducko said. "The girls found out that they had to keep playing hard."
   That’s a good lesson for any team that competes in the GMC’s Red Division. Monday’s game was played against a Blue Division team, at a much slower pace, and on a smaller field.
   Luckily for the Vikings, the temporary let-down didn’t affect the final outcome, and South got to celebrate their first win of the season. They dropped their season opener at Piscataway, and fell to Old Bridge 3-0 on Saturday. The Vikings are now 1-2 while the Bulldogs slipped to 1-4.
   As often happens when teams are used to playing stiff competition, Ducko felt her squad eased up a bit against Metuchen.
   "We didn’t play as well as we did in the Old Bridge game," the coach said. "I thought everything started to come together in the Old Bridge game.
   "However, we are starting to play more as a team. We’re putting nice passes together, and both the midfield and the defense did a nice job (Monday) of feeding the forwards. Because it was a small field, even my defense was able to send some nice long balls up to (the frontline)."
   One problem that the Vikings are having this season is the fact that they are one of the youngest teams in the Red Division. Ducko pointed out that Piscataway has nine seniors on its squad this fall. One of South’s newcomers, sophomore Caitlin Welch, got her first varsity start in goal against Metuchen, and she played the entire first half before senior Jami Leibering came in for the second period.
   "Caitlin did well," Ducko said. "She did a nice job, and made some good saves. (Metuchen) didn’t have too many shots on her, but enough that she got her hands on the ball. She’s confident in her skills. As she becomes more comfortable, we’ll start to see her become more vocal."
   The other sophomores who made the varsity cut are defender Kashawna Pierre, outside midfielder Jacque Davis, and utility player Samantha Littlejohn.
   The Vikings are also carrying five freshmen on the roster. One of them, Jessica Mastronardi, notched her first varsity goal against the Bulldogs. Sarah Waniak and Lori Schmon will see time as outside midfielders, and Logan Roquemore is a defender. Eve Mizerak, currently benched with an injury, can play several positions.
   It has been a challenge trying to mesh all the newcomers into the varsity mold, but Ducko has had a lot of help from the returning starters, especially the three senior captains Tanya Earl, Alissa Goldsmith and Ashley Anne Morgan.
   "The older girls are showing the younger players what we expect," Ducko said. "They’re trying to get them to feel more comfortable and feel like they are really a part of the team."
   THROW-INS: Earl and junior Leia Rispoli each netted two goals in the Metuchen game.