LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although the Livingston High School girls soccer team's season ended on Sunday with a 4-1 loss to Montclair in the North East E championship game, the Lancers still achieved plenty in a season whose status was shrouded in doubt both before it began, and again before it concluded.
When the NJSIAA announced last summer that the fall sports season would start late and be condensed, there were questions about whether schools would even be able to hold a substantial season.
Then, after its Nov. 3 game against Verona, Livingston learned that all school sports activities would have to cease for two weeks in accordance with COVID-19 protocol. But when the Lancers returned to the field on Nov. 18, that still left enough time for some big victories and much more proper closure to the season.
"I’m really proud of the team. We graduated a large, very talented group of players last year, battled through some tough injuries, had to quarantine for two weeks leading up to the state tournament," said Livingston girls soccer coach Brian Carr. "Each time the team hit a roadblock, the girls adapted, put their heads down, worked a bit harder and found ways to overcome. Over the season, there was a clear evolution in their mindset and I’m happy that their hard work paid off."
Livingston came out of the two-week quarantine blazing, defeating Bayonne, 4-0, and then West Orange, 2-0, in the first two rounds of the North East E tournament leading up to the final against Montclair--the same team that defeated Livingston in overtime in the Essex County Tournament championship game in 2019.
There was no county tournament in 2020 because of the condensed nature of the season. Livingston finished with a 9-2-1 record that included four consecutive shutouts before the loss to Montclair.
"Of course, we wanted our final game to end differently, but that doesn’t take away from this team's accomplishments," said Carr. "This was the fifth straight season we’ve made it to a championship game, and every player deserves credit for adding another other to our program’s history. It’s a great group of seniors, and we are going to miss them."
Livingston appears to have a bountiful future in girls soccer with so many players returning in 2021. Junior midfielder Jadyn Liebman finished with five goals and nine assists, juniors Kelly Lyons and Kylie Prendergast each scored three goals, and so did sophomore Katherine Riccardi.
But senior Lauren Belcuore has played her final game after a wondrous career. Becluore, who will continue her career at Villanova University, scored 13 goals and had seven assists this season, and, in 70 career games, finished with 58 goals and 32 assists.
"Lauren is an important leader for us. She’s been the captain since she was 15 years old and has brought with her an impressive desire to win," said Carr. "Her work rate is fantastic, and she deserves all the recognition she gets. Lauren is incredibly competitive and wants to win in everything she does. She’s never chased stats, and we’ve never allowed her to pad her numbers in less competitive games, which really makes her tally all that more impressive. She’s represented our program well, and we couldn’t be prouder."
Both the Livingston Board of Education and the Livingston Township Council congratulated the boys and girls soccer teams on their outstanding seasons in the face of the pandemic. More on the boys soccer team as well as Livingston's other fall 2020 athletic programs will be shared in the coming days.
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