SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Getting a girls travel soccer team in the borough was a tough fight, but forming the Spotswood Fusion three years ago gave a group of determined players and coaches an opportunity to play. The Fusion competes in the Intercounty Youth Soccer League and after finishing second for the past two seasons, the team came away with a championship title, winning the Junior Girls division over the weekend.
Spotswood was 3-0 in the playoffs, including a first round win by forfeit. The team defeated the Summit Courage 1-0 in the semis and the Summit Fireballs 1-0 in the finals. Spotswood finished the regular season with a 6-1-0 record. The ICYSL includes eight teams based mostly in Middlesex, Union, Somerset and Essex Counties. Janior Da Rocha is the team's head coach. Greg Keelen serves as the Fusion's assistant coach and Ricardo Carrion is the team's trainer.
Karissa Molina netted the game-winner in the finals, putting away a pass from Hailey Krainski. Kaitlyn Buffalino earned two shutouts in the playoffs with a nod going to Emily Wallace for her stellar defensive effort at sweeper.
The Fusion competed against U14 and U16 teams this season to win the division. Spotswood scored 24 goals this season and only allowed three. Members of the Fusion include Olivia Adiao, Cooper Blore, Kaitlyn Buffalino, Mikayla Da Rocha, Brianna Del Aversano, Sofia Haider, Ashley Judah, Maggie Keelen, Hailey Krainski, Lael Leaver, Karissa Molina, Claudia Paradysz, Camryn Snyder, Emily Wallace, Olivia Williams and Erin Zavala.
"The Spotswood Fusion went into their third year together with something to prove," Keelen explained after the exciting championship win. "The team competed in the ICYSL Finals Fest in both the fall and spring seasons of last year. Each time the team came up short of their goal and earned second place. This is not to say that last year was not a success for the team. The Fusion worked tremendously hard to build a cohesive and competitive football club from the ground up during the 2018-2019 season, but coaches and players alike were left with a feeling that they left unfinished business on the soccer field."
Last spring, the team added Snyder to the roster and Blore and Molina came on board this fall. The Fusion gained additional confidence in a weekend tournament in Hazlet where the girls stood their ground against high-ranking teams.
"That sense of purpose was a fuel for the team as they trained through grueling summer conditioning starting in early August," Keelen said. "It kept the team going through long practices in the rain and mud. It gave them the resiliency to step up when multiple injuries kept some team members out for weeks. It was the fuel that fused the girls together, not just as a team, but as a family."
"We are looking forward to bringing the team back together for the spring season to defend our championship and to keep the ICYSL trophy in Spotswood," Keelen added.