NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — After a stunning start to her junior season on the West Essex girls soccer team, Sam Balzano is looking to continue the momentum she’s built as an emerging soccer star in the state.
“We have a really talented group [at West Essex],” said Balzano. “My expectations are really high for the team because I think we can do things here at West Essex that haven’t been done before.”
The Knights have had a strong start to their 2019 campaign, going 5-2 in their first seven games. Despite Saturday’s close loss to Kearny, the squad won its previous four games and has repeatedly outscored its opponents in large part due to Balzano’s play.
“Obviously, I have to work with my team and I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” she said. “We’re all very good players. We have a lot of players who play club outside of high school, and we all have a really good dynamic going.”
To date, Balzano has been a dynamic scorer for the club, leading the team with four goals and three assists for a total of seven points thus far in 2019.
“[I’m just] staying calm and playing,” said the attacker, who has put in the work to get where she is at now by focusing on her weaknesses during the offseason. “I wanted to work on my finishing because I work a lot [already] on passing the ball and stuff. I feel like I needed to work on staying calm with the ball and knowing when to shoot.”
During the preseason, Balzano continued to gel with her team in order to prepare for the season.
“I was very calm with the ball [and] I was working with my teammates keeping everyone calm,” she said of her preseason experience. “I feel like I was doing a good job making sure everyone was doing what they needed to be doing.”
The attacker has taken soccer very seriously for the last several years. Eyeing an opportunity to play beyond high school, Balzano has also been playing club soccer outside of West Essex to further her chances at a collegiate career.
“I’ve always been very serious about soccer,” said Balzano. “It’s my junior year and I want to play in college, so it’s very important for me to do well this season.”
While the immediate focus is to continue playing well and winning with the West Essex squad there is still plenty of soccer left in the juniors immediate future. As potential scouts and schools alike begin to eye her talents Balzano is committed to continuing to improve with every game.
“I want to start off really good in high school so I can bring that over into my club season,” said Balzano, who will continue to hone and develop her skills as the county and state tournaments rapidly approach.“[I want] to get myself going with a good momentum; not only myself, but my other teammates to get them rolling.”
West Essex will take on Millburn in an away game on Tuesday at 4 p.m.