SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Spotswood High School girls varsity soccer team started the 2018 season with back-to-back shutouts and is currently undefeated with a 4-0 record. Head coach Michael Reid attributes their successful start to an experienced, hardworking team balanced with talented newcomers.
"A variety of factors have contributed to a successful start," the veteran soccer coach and Appleby Elementary School Physical Educator teacher explained. "We have 13 returning letter winners and nine starters back from a team last year that played a tough schedule and finished second place in the Blue Division. We learned a lot of valuable lessons from the previous season and expectations were set high going into this season. The three senior captains of Amber Meagher, Carolina Fernandez and Alexa Reilly have provided great senior leadership along with the other seniors of Alessia Tavella and Megan McCook. Senior leadership is such a big part of setting the standard for what we want to accomplish and everybody buying into to the team goals. We also have a lot of talent in our junior, sophomore and freshmen classes in the varsity program. Everyone works for each other knowing that if the team is successful then we all are successful. It is an all in attitude to make the Spotswood girls soccer program the best that it can be."
Fernandez has netted a hat trick in the season opener and has 11 points in four games for the Chargers. The senior along with Meagher both made the squad as freshmen.
"Experience goes a long way," Reid said about Fernandez and Meagher. "Carolina and Amber played a lot of minutes as freshmen for a team that was extremely talented and won the Blue Division title in 2015. They were also sophomore starters together during the GMC County Tournament semi-final appearance our team was able to accomplish in 2016. They have been a big piece of multiple accomplishments this program has had over the past couple of seasons. Carolina has scored some big time goals for the program and Amber is as dependable as a player that I've ever coached at Spotswood. She may not appear on the stat sheet all the time, but she does the little things that go unnoticed and makes the team successful."
Reid, who has been behind the bench of the Spotswood High School varsity soccer program for 13 seasons, also has talent joining the ranks alongside their more seasoned teammates. Goalkeeper Julia Masucci made the squad as a freshmen last season and Kirti Craig is quickly making her presence known in her inaugural varsity season.
"Kirti has made an immediate impact on the program as a freshman," Reid said. "Through four games she already has two goals and three assists. She has all of the tools to be a special player throughout her entire high school career. We are fortunate enough to have one the of the best goalies in the division and in the county in Julia Masucci. She is only a sophomore, but performs like a four year varsity starter already. In order to compete for a division title and advance far in the county and state tournaments you need a very good goalie. She already has three shutouts in the first four games."
"We also have a number of girls who might get overlooked, but are essential to our success," Reid said of his team. "Our starting defensive backline of Kaylee Leonard, Randi Wells, Jamie Zavalla and Britney Canales have shutdown teams so far into the season. Playing in front of Julia Masucci, the group has only conceded one goal in four games. All four juniors gained a lot of experience last year playing together and have made us even stronger this year. Incoming freshman Giana Oelkers and Denise Carroll have contributed to the defense in their first varsity season."
"Seniors Alessia Tavella and Megan McCook have provided leadership and organization in the midfield which has helped us control games," Reid continued. "Sophomore Mandee Mendez has continued right where she left of last season as a dominant midfielder. Forwards Sofia Vieira and Lauri McLeod have both already scored two goals while freshman Laci Brown has created many scoring chances for the team. All three players have added another dimension to a talented attacking group."
The Chargers currently occupy first place in the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division. The only other undefeated team in the Blue Division is Wardlaw-Hartridge High School. The Rams are 5-0 and are in second place in the conference. On Friday, the two teams go head to head for the first time this season in Edison.
"This season has the potential to be a special season," Reid said when asked of his outlook for the 2018 season. "The ultimate team goal is always to win the Blue Division title and we are taking steps in that direction game by game. There's still a lot of games left, but the girls are excited about the season and looking forward to all of the challenges coming our way."