If you take a look at its record, the Bridgewater-Raritan High School boys soccer team is a mediocre 5-7.
This is not typical territory for the Panthers at this point of the season, but coach Rick Szeles says there’s reason to be optimistic.
“The character of the team is something to point out,” he said. “These kids have had a rough time, but they haven’t given up. We’re at the top and approaching of the peak, but we just haven’t been able to get over the top.
“Every kid on the team believes we’re going to put it all together, though. They all believe that we’re going to finish strong and it’s the time of the season for that.”
It’s been a season full of highs and lows for the Panthers. Szeles pointed to a 2-1 victory over Scotch Plains-Fanwood as a silver lining thus far.
“I think we had a big let-down after we beat (Scotch Plains),” said Szeles. “They’re a very good team and we were able to survive and get the second goal to win it that day.”
It also doesn’t help that the Panthers have been nagged by injuries the entire season. Their go-to scorer, Josh Rich, has missed time with a sore tendon in his foot.
“We’ve been putting band aids on,” said Szeles. “We really haven’t had a full squad for the entire season and haven’t been able to take it full strength.”
While some have been hurt, others have stepped up and played good soccer. Szles pointed to Patricio Medina and Robbie Tobia as such.
Coincidentally, Medina might be lost for some time due to a concussion.
The Somerset County Tournament reaches the quarterfinals on Saturday, finally putting the top four seeds in actions. Here’s a quick glance at each game.
8-Somerville at 1-Watchung Hills: Somerville edged past Rutgers Prep in the second round. Watchung Hills is unbeaten in nine contests this season.
5-Bernards at 4-Gill St. Bernard’s: These two teams already met in Skyland Conference Valley Division action and play to a 1-1 draw.
6-Hillsborough at 3-Bridgewater-Raritan: The two rivals met in Skyland Conference Delaware Division action on Sept. 17 with Bridgewater-Raritan coming away with a 1-0 win in overtime.
7-Montgomery at 2-Pingry: Montgomery, after going winless last season, has regrouped nicely by winning 6 of 11 contests thus far. The Cougars dealt North Plainfield an overtime defeat in the second round. An inexperienced Pingry squad is coming of age before our eyes.
Matt Mangini, Pingry: The senior midfielder has been a stalwart in the middle all season for the Big Blue, and broke loose for an incredible game during this past week. Mangini finished with four goals and two assists, having a say in all of the scoring in a 6-1 victory over Orange. For the season, Pingry’s captain has 12 goals and five assists to place him amongst the best in Somerset County.