SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- The South Plainfield High School varsity boys soccer team has put last year’s disappointing ending behind them and are looking forward to the upcoming 2019 season.

South Plainfield finished 12-7-1 a year ago and tied for first place atop the Greater Middlesex Conference - Blue Division with a 6-3-1 mark, but it lost three games in a row to round out the campaign. The first was a defeat in the quarterfinals of the GMCT and the final one was a heartbreaker in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs against Governor Livingston.

This summer, coach Anthony Perfilio said the guys seem fueled by how the 2018 season concluded and are looking forward to the fresh start.

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“I have a very positive outlook on this team,” the coach said. “We have a great bunch of boys returning and they seem to be gelling very nicely with the newcomers to the team. We had a very bad end to our season last year losing a few games in a row. Our season was abruptly ended in the first round of states.  I think the boys remember this. This group wants to be remembered in a better light. They seem hungry. I guess we'll see once the season starts.”

Perfilio, who is in his 15th season at the helm of the Tigers, will need to replace standouts Marc Giordano, Mike Marrero, Chris Born, Ian McCoid and others. According to stats entered by coaches and managers at NJ.com, Marrero led the way with 10 goals last year with five assists while Giordano scored nine times. Born chipped in with two goals and seven assists.

In order to have a successful season, South Plainfield will need to replenish the lost firepower.

Adrian Dominguez, now a senior forward, is the leading candidate to do so as he found the back of the net nine times a year ago. Perfilio mentioned he’s counting on a team effort for goals, and that his squad needs to heal up to get all the practice in that they can so they can be ready.

“At this point, my biggest concern is health,” Perfilio said. “I have a few key players who are hurt right now, but I am hopeful that they will be returning before the first game of the season.  We also do not seem to have a true goal scorer. Goals will have to come from everyone on the pitch.”

Aside from Dominguez, a captain, he’s also expecting big things from senior co-captain, Gabe Mont (midfield), junior Victor Balewicz (midfield), junior Julio Mauricio (midfield/center back), senior co-captain Kevin Veliz (center back/outside pack), and newcomer Hector Lopez (center back/midfield).

Mont scored six goals in 2018, Balewicz had three, and Mauricio tallied two goals and two assists.

Seniors Nick Atehortua, Jose Galdamez, and Agastya Patel and juniors Nathan Taco Bravo, and Joe Frascino are ones to watch as his another newcomer, Issaiah Salazar.

Returning are the Tigers’ two top goalkeepers a well in junior Bryan Cruz and sophomore Anthony Frascino. Cruz made 80 stops last season while the latter made 23.

“Our biggest strength is our depth,” Perfilio said. “We have a lot of players who are able to play.  We have a good senior core with a lot of talent surrounding them. This should be helpful if we make it far in the GMC and state tournament.”

The Tigers begin their 2019 slate versus South Brunswick on Wednesday, Sept. 3 at home at 4:00 p.m. South Brunswick beat South Plainfield, 5-1, to open last season, which only adds more motivation to Perfilio’s team.

“Yeah, South Brunswick beat us up in the opener. They were extremely good and we were very unlucky that game. This will be a big test for us again,” Perfilio said. “Is it extra motivation? I am sure that my returners remember the game and want to have a better performance. A win would be huge for us. This game will help determine where we are really at as a team.”

Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.

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