New Egypt girls soccer enters state contest on four-game skid



The seniors and juniors on New Egypt High School’s girls soccer team remember the Warriors’ drive to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I championship over Metuchen High School two years ago.

It’s recapturing that drive that will help them wipe out the bitterness of a four-game losing streak that dropped them to third place in the Burlington County Scholastic League Patriot Division. New Egypt is 11-5-3 and plays its first game in the state tournament on Nov. 7 against Point Pleasant Beach High School (7-7-1).

“[The losing streak] definitely shows us things we need to work on toward the end of the season,” coach Jennifer Kociuba said. “We’ll work on those things on [Nov. 7]. We need to work on finishing in front of the net.”

Kociuba always likes to schedule strong opponents toward the end of the season. Losing to larger schools in a streak that includes Burlington Township High School, 2-0; Cinnaminson High School, 3-2, in double overtime; and division rivals Pemberton Township High School, 2-0, and Holy Cross, 4-1, helped the team prepare for the postseason.

“There were lessons learned,” she said. New Egypt, unbeaten through its first 11 games, secured a fifth winning record in Kobciuba’s seven years with the team.

But with seven seniors in the starting lineup, this team is pressed to finish with a flourish.

“I think they’re very nervous being a senior heavy team,” Kociuba said. “They have a lot to lose. But it is what it is, and most of them have been through this before.”

She said no lineup changes are planned, but the team has gone through the latter part of the season without two well-regarded midfielders — senior Elena Brown, who is out with a knee injury she suffered threequarters of the way through the season, and sophomore Ashley Brunner, who just had surgery for a knee injury suffered at the start of the season.

Four seniors have consistently performed well for the team: goalkeeper Amber Steen, sweeper Bridgette Buckalew, and midfielders Kat Tinnirello and Carly Gray. Also part of that nucleus is sophomore Casey McKenzie, who has a team high of 17 goals.

Outside backs Vanessa Lukasik (senior) and Alyssa Zariello (freshman) also play for the Warriors’ “flat back three” defense.

Forwards Kayla Bancroft and Jamie Soles will have to pick up the scoring even more, with sophomore Michaela Schenker helping off the bench. Sophomore Cathy Pullen and freshman Gabriella Medina at the midfield are the other starters.