Jaguars look to improve scoring punch in 2012


Beyond having nine players back who started in 2011, Jackson Memorial High School boys soccer coach Steve Bado had reason to feel encouraged as practice for the 2012 season began this week.

The Jaguars won three of four games this past weekend in the Toms River Preseason Tournament. The players appeared to have improved on finishing their scoring threats; a lack of finishing prowess kept last year’s team from greater success than a 10- 9 record.

The Jaguars’ 2011 season ended in a Central Jersey Group IV state sectional tournament opening round loss to Montgomery and an upset loss on penalty kicks to St. John Vianney following a 1-1 tie in the opening round of the Shore Conference Tournament.

“We have to pick up a little more scoring,” said Bado, who saw signs of improvement during a camp held earlier in August at Gettysburg College. “We led Ocean County (last season) with seven shutouts. We were not giving up (a lot of) goals, but we were losing games, 1-0 and 2-1. So far we’ve found the back of the net pretty good.”

Scoring goals will be important since junior Devyn Josko is expected to take over in goal for graduated four-year starter Mike Folk.

Josko saw some playing time last season and he will have support from returning starters seniors Tom Denoville at sweeper and Ryan Young at stopper, and junior Anthony Provini at right fullback. Senior Steve McAllister started at stopper when Young was hurt for four games.

Other goalie candidates are sophomore Joe Reddin and freshman Chris Juhasz.

At the Toms River tournament, no one player stood out in any phase of the game, said Bado, but he is not complaining.

Scoring was well balanced, which pleased the coach, as the Jaguars bounced back from a 4-2 loss to perennial Group II power Delran in which Bado said his team played well, and went on to beat Sayreville, 3-0, defending Group III state champion Ramapo, 4-2, and defending Central Jersey Group IV champion East Brunswick.

With an 11-7 edge in goals, no one scored more than two put into the net by seniors Oscar Rojas, a starting outside midfielder, and Christian Jiminez, a midfielder, and freshman midfielder Nick Schlageter.

The coach’s guarded optimism about the team’s improved scoring comes despite having only one returning starter at forward, junior Garrett Muzikowski. “The Gettysburg camp helped us get a lot more prepared for this (past) weekend,” Bado said. “We have a boatload of experience and age, which we have not had in a long time.”

Six returning starters are seniors, but there are five freshmen who could land a spot on the varsity roster or at least get a call up from the junior varsity or freshman teams by the end of the season.

Four seniors who got ample starting experience last year are back in the midfield, which means stability and consistency on the attacking end: Matt Fryc and Anthony Diaz in the middle, and Rojas and Ed Guippone on the outside.

The important thing from here is staying healthy. Inexperience and injuries affected the Jaguars early last season, but they later avenged losses to Toms River North and Toms River South. The Jaguars suffered three 1-0 losses and a 2-1 loss early in the 2011 season.

“We finally matured and the players responded when they all came back (from injuries),” Bado said.

One of the highlights of the campaign came when the Jaguars snapped Freehold High School’s 12-game win streak late in the season with a 1-0 triumph.

This team also has some good depth. Bado said thus far he has seen progress in senior fullback Sal Biliancione, who recently relocated back from Florida, and Jiminez; juniors Jordan Hodges, and sophomore Jarrett Digiantomasso at fullback.

Also vying for playing time are senior Tom Beyer at midfield, juniors Bryan Procido and Tyler Russo at midfield and Jeff Galatola on defense, and freshmen Andrew Joswicki, Joe Dezart and Joe Mamola.

“We have a lot on our roster and are very heavy with seniors,” Bado said. “We’ll see what happens in our scrimmages.”

The Jaguars will open the season at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 with a Shore Conference A South Division match at Toms River South.