Bombers look to even the score for title

With two divisional games remaining, the Sayreville High School girls soccer team is sitting in second place in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) White Division.

The Bombers are 6-2 overall (and in conference play) and will square off against North Brunswick on Friday. A Bombers victory would set up Monday’s match at Woodbridge and enable the blue and gray to forge a tie for the league championship with a win against the Barrons.

Sayreville is coming off a tough 3-2 loss to Monroe on Monday. The Bombers had been in first place and a tie would have kept them there, but a penalty kick with time dwindling by Sarah Gibbons was the difference.

“It was a tough loss for us, but we were down and our girls showed a lot of character in coming back to tie the game,” Sayreville coach Leah Craig said.

Sayreville got goals from freshman Fahreta Kolenovic, her 12th, and Jolise Aponte, and net-minder Ally Cuozo stopped nine shots. Kolenovic was injured late in the match and the Bombers’ leading scorer had to be helped off the field.

The emergence of Kolenovic has been a big plus for the usually defensive-minded Bombers. With Heather Roy, a four-year starter, and Aponte, a three-year starter and co-captain, also on the front line, Sayreville’s offense can be dangerous. Amanda Mathisen and freshman Alexis Gonzalez also see time on the front line.

“Having a stronger offense takes some pressure off our defense and it’s also enabled us to come from behind in games,” Craig said.

That’s not to say Craig’s team can’t play defense. Cuozo posted nine shutouts a year ago and has three so far this fall. Junior sweeper Danielle Hogan leads a steady crew of fullbacks, many of whom are new to the varsity lineup. Steph Pagano and Kristen Batko usually start with Deanna Petersen and junior Kim Moken in reserve.

The coach counts on co-captain Jules Burns, who has been outstanding since coming back from a torn ACL last year, and junior Staci Jankielwicz to provide leadership and experience in the middle. The Bombers deep midfield corps also includes Julie Giordano and Olivia Welna, juniors Sarah Barnes, Taylor Miller and Brittany Nowicki, and sophomore Sarah Buscar.

“We have to get by North Brunswick before we can look forward to playing Woodbridge again,” said Craig, whose team lost a 3-2 decision to the Barrons earlier in the campaign. “Still, we’re very excited to have six wins so quickly, but we still have a lot of work to do. I’d like to see our passing be a little better, for one thing.”

Following the North Brunswick game, Sayreville will host South Brunswick in a nonconference match on Saturday. The Bombers have several other nonconference games lined up for later in the season, including matches with East Brunswick, Piscataway and Cardinal McCarrick.

Of course, there’s also the GMC Tournament and Craig’s team should also qualify for the state playoffs. The third-year coach would also like to best her total of 11 victories recorded last fall.

“We have a lot of soccer ahead of us and, hopefully, the girls will continue to improve their games,” Craig said. “The desire, talent and work ethic is there. If they play their game, this team can accomplish a lot.”by phone, call 732-888-1704