Knights starting to look like a dangerous team


Staff Writer

In what coach Rob Lozzi terms a “rebuilding season,” the Old Bridge High School girls soccer team is 5-5 and battling for an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV playoff berth.

With seven games to go before the Oct. 20 cutoff, the Lady Knights need four more victories to qualify for the tourney.

Old Bridge is coming off a 4-0 triumph on Tuesday against Colonia, when junior forward Becky Bentley netted a hat trick and freshman Amanda Pero tallied her eighth goal of the campaign. Laura Rumolo also notched her fourth shutout in goal. Lozzi’s girls have scored wins against Piscataway, Edison, J.P. Stevens and South Brunswick as well.

“Right now I’m very happy with where we are,” the coach said. “The girls are working hard and they have a great attitude. I think we’re only going to get better. If we can work our way into the state tournament, who knows what will happen.”

Lozzi credited the team in general for playing strong defense from the start. While Rumolo has been solid in net, she’s had plenty of help from a defense that includes seniors Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Alexis Mendelewski, Rachel Kosmyna and Jaime Schulman.

Sophomores Christine Cannon and Mary Catherine McCarthy have been quite effective in splitting time at stopper. Angela Defilippo also spends some time as the Lady Knights’ stopper. Freshman Maria Falzone has also done well on the back line.

The Lady Knights have good balance in the middle with veterans Stacey DiMaggio, Caitlyn Durgin and Lori Reiter, along with sophomores Jen O’Donnell and Jillian Luicci and freshmen Melanie Richard and Julie Connor.

Old Bridge has missed gritty Courtney McNallon, who is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL while playing lacrosse.

“Our midfielders have been doing a good job helping out the defense and getting the ball up to our forwards,” Lozzi said

“They’ve really kept it simple and they’re playing smart.”

Bentley, who leads the team with 10 goals, and Pero have been doing most of the damage up front. Paula Lovera and junior Megan Black provide depth.

“With nine sophomores and freshmen, this is a very young team,” Lozzi said. “Fortunately, we have a good group of senior leaders who’ve really helped the younger players, and that’s one reason we’ve been competitive. Another reason is the way these girls work and learn. They improve with every game.”

In addition to a tough Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Red Division schedule, Lozzi’s team has also played tough nonconference games against the likes of Hunterdon Central, Westfield and Cranford. Old Bridge’s other losses came at the hands of South Brunswick and division-leading East Brunswick.

The Lady Knights continue their race toward the state playoffs on Friday with a rematch against J.P. Stevens before playing Sayreville the following day.

“Right now our goal is to get into the state tournament, but we also have our eyes on the GMC Tournament,” Lozzi said.

“I want the team to peak in time for those tournaments, because we’re capable of doing well.”