Trojans win third straight after dropping season-opener


 J.P. Stevens High School defensive back Quazir Reddick, left, is focused on Old Bridge High School receiver Chris Solomon as they line up before a play during the Oct. 2 game played in Old Bridge. The Knights beat the Hawks, 17-6.  MATT DENTON J.P. Stevens High School defensive back Quazir Reddick, left, is focused on Old Bridge High School receiver Chris Solomon as they line up before a play during the Oct. 2 game played in Old Bridge. The Knights beat the Hawks, 17-6. MATT DENTON BISHOP AHR

H and it to Joe Vigilante in his first year as head football coach at

Bishop George Ahr High School, which defeated New Brunswick High School, 24-7, on Oct. 4.

The lessons he learned to earn the job were taught by none other than the coach on the opposite side of the field, Don Sofilkanich.

Vigilante served as a Trojans assistant coach for seven years, which included the last three under Sofilkanich, who accepted the New Brunswick job. Following a season opening loss to Colonia High School, Bishop Ahr has won three straight. The victory over New Brunswick may be its most impressive.

Even when starting quarterback David Holder exited the game in the second quarter against the Zebras with what was diagnosed as a deep knee bruise, the Trojans didn’t miss a beat with backup Tommy Galante calling signals.

With Bishop Ahr ahead, 10-0, after the first half, Galante connected on a 99-yard touchdown pass with senior Tim Howard to extend the lead to 17-0 after three quarters. Howard, who has emerged as one of the top receivers in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC), punctuated his performance with a 43-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach at 24-0.

Just as important was the performance by Bishop Ahr’s stingy defense, which limited New Brunswick to a 45-yard touchdown run in the waning minutes.

When asked the difference between this year and last year’s team, Vigilante pointed to what he and his players learned from 2013’s disappointing 3-7 mark.

“Many [of those losses] were by very close margins,” he said. “As a result, our senior leadership learned we can’t take any opponent for granted. [The GMC White Division] has so much parity. If you start looking at who knocked off whom, you have no problem understanding you have to be prepared for each game.”

Vigilante believes his seniors on defense, especially middle linebacker Alex Dawes and defensive end Devin Michael, have been among those responsible for keeping their teammates’ emotions on an even keel.

“The seniors bought into what we’re trying to accomplish as soon as I became coach,” Vigilante said. “If that hadn’t been the case, the negative trickle-down effect would have been detrimental to the team. We’re fortunate to have quality leadership.”

Bishop Ahr hosts John F. Kennedy Memorial High School (2-2) on Oct. 10 and visits South Plainfield High School (1-2) on Oct. 17 and Carteret High School (2-2) on Oct. 24. The regular season wraps up with home games against Perth Amboy High School (0-4) and what will be a spirited contest against St. Joseph High School of Metuchen (1-2). The Trojans compete in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group III section and are currently ranked fourth in the standings.

Girls soccer

The Bishop Ahr girls soccer team, defending Non-Public A champions, are poised to make another run at the title. The Trojans are 10-0 and have been dominant in most of their victories, half of which have been via shutout.

The leading scorer with 18 goals is junior forward Jillian Vassallo, who recently made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Delaware on a scholarship. Senior forward Sam Driscoll is next with 10 goals, while senior midfielder Lindsey Scarmozzino has netted five goals. Senior goalkeeper Stefanie Giambrone has been a strength in goal with 32 saves.

The rest of the starting lineup includes seniors Claire Dundon and Cali Clarke on the back line, Sarah Harmon at center back, and Dana DeSantis and Rose Demirjian in the midfield; and juniors Reilly Mullin at center back and Stephanie Spada at forward.

The top reserves include seniors Isabel Vasquez and Cassandra Brannigan.

The newcomers are juniors Michelle Egnasko, Lauren Jurcsek and Erica Balsamo; sophomore Stephanie Corea; and freshmen Ryleigh Greenwald, Dayna Dobkowski and Kelly Harmon. Junior Alyssa Corea is out for the season with an injury.

Head coach Jim Tavormina, in his 17th year, lists repeating as state champions as the team’s primary goal, but the Trojans are also taking dead aim at winning the GMC championship. Bishop Ahr lost to East Brunswick High School by a goal in last year’s semifinals. In addition to Vassallo, Dundon (Manhattan College) and Harmon (Mount St. Mary’s University) will play soccer in college.


An area girls soccer team in rebuilding mode is J.P. Stevens High School, and its 0- 10 record points to the Hawks’ significant growing pains. Lisa Dato, in her fourth year as coach, said that 12 seniors needed to be replaced from last year’s 9-10-1 team. Scoring has also been a problem, with J.P. Stevens being shut out in seven of the 10 losses. The Hawks compete in the GMC Red Division.

The starting lineup consists of senior defenders Nina D’Amiano, Hannah Harkay and Sarah Que; senior midfielders Melanie Lim, Kiersten Shannon and Nidhi Patel; juniors Samantha Dzema (forward) and Frankie Racioppi (midfield); sophomore midfielder Kinjal Shah; and freshmen Brielle Sadowski (defense), Serena Zilli (forward) and Sarah Zimmer (goalkeeper).

The newcomers are seniors Lindsay Beckish (goalkeeper), Puja Duggal and Natasha Rai (defense); juniors Sarah Elshafei (forward), Alexandra Maris (forward), Lauren Tencza (midfield) and Prachi Sinha (defense); sophomores Kayla Luis (midfield), Alyssa Budhan (midfield) and Monisha Trousdale (defense); and freshmen Caitlyn Shannon (forward) and Dakshina Palasamudrum (goalkeeper).


Edison High School’s girls soccer team is 3-7-1 and competes in the White Division.

Leanne Rubiano, who enters her fourth season at the high school and second as head coach, fields a lineup that depends on a high number of underclassmen. The starters include seniors Amy Dworsky (midfield) and Sabrina Pak (defense); junior defenders Gabrielle DaSilva, Julia Hoover and Gayathri Vijayakumar; sophomores Elena Elias (forward), Felicia Forsythe (forward), Deana Maffucci (midfield) and Alyssa Podob (goalkeeper); and freshman midfielder Rachel Weber.

Key reserves are seniors Lauren Bradley, Radhika Patel and Georgia Patel, as well as senior newcomers Sarah Goodman, Rhea Lobo, Alexa Lubonski, Julianna Ocampo, Kasey Pak, Marissa Rodriguez, Nataly Suarez.

Rubiano said Vijayakumar has been a pleasant addition. She attends Middlesex Academy but is a member of the Eagles since the school doesn’t play soccer

“She plays sweeper and has emerged as a leader of the defense,” Rubiano said. “Gayathri is supportive of her teammates and has a strong desire to improve from game to game.