NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - “Bigger Than Ourselves”.
That’s the motto Scott Murphy and his team will live by this season as the Lady Pioneers soccer team looks to shake itself of last season’s 5-13-2 record. Murphy has done everything possible to engrain the motto in the heads of his players, and for the most part it’s worked.
And if one girl just so happens to forget about the motto and its purpose, it won’t take long to remember.
“We have the quote 'Bigger Than Ourselves' on the back of our training shirts,” Murphy, who has compiled 177 wins during his 15 years at the helm, said. “The quote reminds us that this season is more about the team than the individual.”
After graduating 14 seniors, the Pioneers return 10 girls with varsity experience with most of the girls in their fourth year on the varsity level. Last season, the team reached the North Jersey Group 1 semifinals, falling to Glen Ridge 2-0.
With such a veteran squad, the expectations will certainly be high in New Providence. By all indications, Murphy and his team have embraced those expectations and have attacked the preseason workouts and scrimmages in a way that signals better things to come.
“We competed in two 7-on-7 leagues this summer and did very well,” Murphy said. “We began working on a few different tactics that we have already demonstrated through our three preseason scrimmages so far. The girls are working very hard and their work over the summer and during the preseason is evident.”
The scrimmages have prepped the Pioneers for what should once again be a very competitive schedule that will feature the usual suspects within the Union County Conference. The Pioneers will compete in the Mountain Division, which many have deemed the toughest division in the conference, where they’ll face the likes of Summit, Rahway, and archrival Governor Livingston among others.
The tough schedule should prepare the Pioneers for a deep run into the state tournament, which is one of Murphy’s expectations for the season. “The expectations for this season are to compete for a division title and we’re also setting a goal of getting to and winning a sectional title.”
Murphy certainly has the horses to make the type of run he expects.
“We are returning 11 athletic varsity players,” Murphy said. “The group of girls have an overall good knowledge of the game.”
Leading the charge will be senior midfielders Riley Kinum and Amanda Maurer. Kinum was one of the team’s top contributors last season in registering seven goals to go along with six assists while Maurer, who will also play Forward had two goals and three assists.
“Riley is a four-year varsity player who is committed to play at Middlebury College,” Murphy said. “She is an attacking player, who will lead our attack. She will also be one of the leaders of the team."
“Amanda is a three-year varsity player who can play forward to midfield. She will also be involved on the attack and have a leadership role as well.”
Kinum will be joined at midfield by juniors Alana Ponte and Olivia Faucher among others. Ponte and Faucher are also returning varsity player who made their fair share of contributions last season.
“Alana is a three-year varsity player who has improved tremendously each season,” Murphy said. “Alana will be counted on to be a two-way midfielder and to link the defending unit with the attacking unit.”
“Olivia is a three-year varsity player who will be asked to do the dirty work. She will play a more defensive midfield role, with the ability to get involved in the attack when the opportunity presents itself.”
Junior Nicole Fusco, who will defend on the backend, is also a key returnee who will also be looked upon to play a pivotal role.
“Nicole is a three-year varsity player and the only returning defender from last Fall,” Murphy said. “She will be asked to organize the back line and be the vocal leader of the defensive unit.”
Junior goalkeeper Erin Lamanna and sophomore forward Maddy Engelbrechtsen round out the newcomers.
As for the newcomers, Murphy said junior Alyssa Nook, sophomore midfielder Sophia Mariniello, and freshman Amy Maurer (Amanda’s younger sister) are three to keep an eye on.
“Alyssa is a first year varsity player who will look to be one of our center defenders,” Murphy said. “Alyssa is a very athletic, tall and fast player, who has been showing nice improvement throughout the preseason.”
“Sophia is a hard-working technical player who has very good vision when she has the ball. Her versatility will be an assent as she can play any position in the midfield.”
“As for Amy, Amy is a competitive player, with good technical skills and a good sense of the game. She will be looked at to fill a defensive role, however she is versatile enough to move into the midfield if needed.”
The Pioneers will kick off the regular season on September 7th when they’ll host Summit.
Click here to view the New Providence High School Athletic Schedule.