NORTH CALDWELL, NJ – The Lady Knights Soccer Team has found early season success in 2019 after a 5-1 victory over Belleville gives West Essex its second consecutive victory.

“We worked hard,” said head coach Rob Faggiani. “For 20 minutes, we weren’t there yet; but we stepped it up and definitely came together.”

West Essex pounced early on Belleville, scoring in the first five minutes of the contest. Brooke Schatz knocked in a goal off a pass from Samantha Balzano.

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“We have a lot of girls that bring a lot of experience, so when you have the opportunity to get some girls in some different spots, there’s always somebody that’s working hard,” said Faggiani.

The decisive moment of the game came in the final 10 minutes when the Lady Knights notched back-to-back goals off the feet of Abby Lonergan and Alexa Houmis, respectively. The goals were each girl’s first of the season and erased any hopes of a Belleville victory.

“It’s definitely a relief to go up 3-0,” said Faggiani. “It definitely allows us to take a deep breathe. We’ve been trying to score more goals, so this is a great situation to be in.”

In the second half, Emma Riberio and Samantha Balzano drove home a pair of extra goals to pad the Knights’ lead. For Balzano, the goal continued a hot streak that has seen the junior produce two goals and an assist over her last two games.

“[Balzano] is excellent with dribbling and an excellent shooter,” said Faggiani. “When she gets her shots on target, there’s an excellent chance it’s going to go in. She has a powerful shot.”

West Essex elected to play keep-away for the remainder of the contest and put in a number of the younger players to gain crucial experience. The end result was an unofficial shot tally of 15-3 for the contest.

Now 3-1 on the season, the Knights will look to extend their winning streak to three on Sept. 16 when they take on Newark East Side.

“We have to keep working, keep communicating, keep working as a team and stick to our plan as a team,” said Faggiani. “If they keep sticking to that process, we’ll get more opportunities.”