NUTLEY, NJ — After suffering a loss in its season-opening game almost three weeks ago, the Nutley High girls soccer team hasn't missed a beat.
On Tuesday afternoon, Nutley received two goals and an assist from junior Mackenzie Albert and a goal and an assist from junior Rebecca Echevarria to earn its fourth straight victory, a 4-1 decision over Verona in Nutley.
The Lady Maroon Raiders are now 4-1 this fall and have outscored their opponents, 19-6, in their last four games since dropping a 4-2 decision at No. 8 Livingston on Oct. 2.
"We're pretty dynamic on offense," said head coach Mike DiPiano. "Our first game was against Livingston, which is a very good team. That score wasn't indicative of how we played."
Against Verona, Albert scored twice, each in the last 15 minutes of the first half as Nutley took a 2-0 lead into intermission.
Verona (3-3) cut its deficit in half when it scored three minutes into the second half but Nutley added goals from Echevarria and junior Mikayla Scoch.
Sophomore goalie Catelena Robson anchored the defense with 11 saves.
"I think our fitness level overtook them late in the first half," said DiPiano. "And Cat was fantastic in goal for us."
Nutley began its current winning streak with a 6-4 victory over Caldwell at home on Oct. 6. Echevarria had three goals and an assist with Albert added a goal and two assists.
Three days later, Nutley blanked Cedar Grove, 4-0, on the road with Albert (two goals, one assist), Echevarria (one goal), junior Natalie Rufino (one goal), junior Sydney Hess (two assists) and sophomore Cameron Coffaro (one assist) steering the offense.
Robson and Gianna Zoppi each made one save to combine on the shutout.
Nutley then powered past Columbia, 5-1, on Oct. 14 with Hess and Albert each scoring twice and Rufino assisting on three goals.
Albert leads the team in scoring with nine goals and four assists with Echevarria adding five goals and three assists. Albert led Nutley with 18 goals a year ago.
Scoch (three goals, two assists), Rufino (one goal, four assists) and Hess (two goals, three assists) round out the top offensive threats.
DiPiano also mentioned the exceptional play of senior captain Anna Contini, who has been a top defender for Nutley since her freshman year.
Other standouts thus far this season have been juniors Olivia Real, Isabella Bianchi and Rachel Echevarria, the twin sister of Rebecca.
"We have a big group of sophomores that have been with us for a while," said DiPiano. "Seven of our eight juniors started as freshmen. I'm happy with the way we've been playing and we've done a very good job of staying healthy and focused."
Nutley, playing in the Liberty Division of the Super Essex Conference, has its sights set on a conference championship and will play host to West Orange (2-2) on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. before playing at East Side (4-2) in Newark on Friday at 4 p.m.
The Lady Maroon Raiders are currently 4-0 and atop the Liberty Division standings. Montclair Kimberley Academy is also undefeated at 2-0 and is scheduled to play host to Nutley in early November.
"We have some big games coming up so we need to keep pace with the other top teams," said DiPiano. "We don't know if there will be a post-season tournament so we're looking to win the conference."
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