Clan, Bolts eying CAL American title

Clan, Bolts eying CAL American title


Clan, Bolts eying CAL American title


A team-by-team look at girls’ soccer teams in the greater Cumberland County area:


Coach: Carol Belfi (5th year, 23-45-1 career record)

Conference: Cape-Atlantic League American I

Group: IV South

Last year: 9-8

Returning letterwinners: 10

Key returners: Stephanie Alvarez (Sr., mid.); Payton Lagerholm (Soph., def.); Melanie Milam (Soph., mid./fwd.); Shelby Money (Jr., GK); Lindsay Olita (Jr., def./mid.); Cassidy Piccone (Jr., mid.); Alex Reyes (Sr., mid.); Olivia Romano (Sr., fwd./mid.); Amanda Smaniotto (Sr., def.).

Top newcomers: Jana Martini (Soph., mid./fwd.); Sarah Patrignani (Fr., fwd./mid.).

Outlook: This is supposed to be a special season for the Fighting Clan. The team lost very little after a 9-8 campaign that ended prematurely with a first-round exit from the Group IV South playoffs at the hands of five-time defending state champion Lenape.

The back line that allowed just 17 goals in front of one of the area’s best keepers in Money returns. Central playmaker Reyes is back for her senior year as well.

Belfi is going to shuffle things around a bit though, in hopes of creating more offense. Alvarez is working up into the midfield and Reyes could see her position shifted up a bit as well.

The offense was the only thing lacking from last year’s squad, which lost five one-goal games, but of the six players who recorded multiple goals last season, just two — Reyes and Romano — are back.

Freshman Patrignani could see plenty of scoring opportunities. She is expected to step right into the lineup and contribute. Sacred Heart transfer Martini can play all over the field and Belfi called her arrival a “blessing.”

Prediction: If the team can find more offense, Vineland is going to be a very dangerous squad. Look for double digit wins and another playoff berth. This has the makings of a special season for the Fighting Clan. A CAL American title is within reach.


Coach: Brian Sloan (8th year, 70-48-8)

Conference: CAL American I

Group: IV South

Last year: 10-8-1

Returning letterwinners: 10

Key returners: McKenzie Taylor (Sr., GK); Emily Daigle (Sr., mid.); Nicki Read (Sr., def./fwd.); Kiara Brown (Sr., def.); Kourtney Smith (Sr., mid.); Taylor Sergiacomi (Jr., mid.); Brandy Toso (Jr., def.); Brooke Muhlbaier (Soph., mid./fwd.); Lauren Reed (Soph., def.); Paige Mason (Soph., GK); Hannah Daigle (Jr., fwd.); Erin Price (Sr., mid.); Mallory Chamberlain (Soph., fwd.); Alyssa Simpkins (Soph., def./fwd.).

Outlook: Millville returns the bulk of its 10-win team from last season, and will get a huge boost with standout Hannah Daigle back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that kept her sidelined for all of 2012.

Taylor is also fully healthy after missing most of last season recovering from a torn ACL.

The offense is instantly better with Hannah Daigle back in the fold. She scored a team-high 13 goals as a freshman.

Last year’s top two leading scorers in Read and Emily Daigle also return, so it looks like the Thunderbolts should have no problems finding the back of the net. Read scored eight times as a defender last year, and she will be moving up to play as a forward or attacking midfielder this fall. She has a lethal long-range shot defenses must respect.

Defensively, starters Toso, Brown and Reed return, so there is no shortage of experience in the back for Sloan’s flat four. With Read still around, there are plenty of lineup options as well.

Millville would really benefit from a strong, possession-minded midfielder, and the hope is that Sergiacomi can fill that role. She enjoyed a solid sophomore season and Sloan expects a major impact from her this year.

Prediction: Millville will be a difficult team to beat when it plays like it should. Inconsistency has plagued the Thunderbolts in previous years, but all of the pieces are there for a stellar season. The CAL American could come down to Millville and Vineland.


Coach: Patrick Mitchell (3rd year, 15-24-2)

Conference: CAL National I

Group: Group II South

Last year: 6-13-1

Returning letterwinners: 7

Key returners: Gabby Balnis (Sr., mid.); Courtney Curcio (Sr., def.); Nicole Gaboda (Sr., def.); Brianna Harper (Sr., fwd.); Lynn Brown (Jr., GK); Gabby DeSousa (Soph., def.).

Top newcomers: Aysiah Cintron (Fr.); Julianna DeSousa (Fr.); Megan Winkler (Fr.).

Outlook: Last year was a rebuilding effort for the Chiefs, and one that saw Buena record just six wins.

This fall, the team is without its two leading scorers due to graduation. In fact, the Chiefs lost all but six of its 36 goals from a year ago. Curcio and Harper combined for five tallies last season.

But solid players return throughout the field. Balnis and Gaboda can play larger roles this year. Brown stepped into net after never playing soccer before last fall and she has shown significant improvement when it comes to understanding the game. She already had great athleticism, so she will be a player to watch.

Harper is expected to move up front, where she is a more natural fit. DeSousa has been very impressive in the early going according to Mitchell too. The promising sophomore has a year of varsity experience under her belt now.

Finding someone to step up and score will be the key, but with good numbers and plenty of seniors on the roster, there are many candidates.

Prediction: Buena is always a contender to challenge the double-digit win mark, and this year is no different. If the key players can stay healthy and someone can step up and score, the Chiefs should improve in the win column.


Coach: Misty Russo (3rd year, 14-22-3)

Conference: Tri-County Royal Division

Group: III South

Returning letterwinners: 13

Key returners: Tori Miller (Jr., fwd.); Kailey Russo (Jr., fwd./mid.); Rachel Geissler (Jr., def.); Hannah Seabert (Soph., GK); Ciera Moore (Sr., def.).

Top newcomers: Abby Poisker (Fr.); Megan Hunter (Fr.) Sam Quieti (Jr.) Amanda Parker (Soph.); Haley Parks (Jr.).

Outlook: This is the season the Crusaders were waiting for. The talented class that has been working its way through the ranks is made up of players who are now juniors. That includes the leading scorer from the last two years in Miller.

Delsea returns nearly everyone from last year’s eight-win team. But that was also a season in which they knocked off Clearview and Williamstown for the first time in many years, and provided a great starting point for the next two seasons.

In Kailey Russo, Delsea has a versatile player capable of stepping up as a goal scorer or dropping back and maintaining possession. That’s a role Williamstown transfer Parks is also likely to play.

Defensively, Geissler and Moore will play in front of Seabert and senior Cheyenne Rivers, who are both expected to see time in net.

With a nice mix of returning players throughout the lineup, big-game experience and loads of talent, the Crusaders are really looking to make a splash this fall.

Prediction: Delsea should be right in the thick of the Tri-Co Royal title chase and a deep playoff run is certainly in the cards.


Coach: Christine Roeschke (11th year, 136-53-12)

Conference: Tri-County Diamond

Group: I South

Last year: 10-8-1

Returning letterwinners: 10

Key returners: Taylor Ismail (Soph., def.); Tiernny Wiltshire (Soph., mid.); Kaitlyn Farrell (Sr., def.); Josephine Koomson (Jr., def.); Megan Moore (Sr., mid.); Courtney Miller (Sr., GK/def.); Lauren Saracino (Jr., fwd.).

Top newcomers: Emily Camp (Fr., GK/fwd.); Olivia Gerstenbacher (Fr., fwd./mid.); Paige Nelson (Fr., def.).

Outlook: The Cougars have averaged more than 13 wins per season under Roeschke, so any “rebuilding” effort at Schalick is a bit of a different animal than at other schools.

That said, the team is tasked with replacing former Daily Journal Player of the Year Nikki Adams, who is now playing at the University of Delaware.

Sophomores Wiltshire and Ismail are the ones who will likely step up and assume the go-to roles on the field.

Replacing the goals and scoring opportunities vacated by Adams and Eleni Dendrinos, who also graduated, will be tough, but, thankfully, there is a solid defense in place to help ease the transition up top.

Ismail, Farrell and Koomson are all solid defenders, and Miller is likely to see a lot of time at stopper after spending the last two seasons as the starting keeper. Freshman Camp has been so impressive in net, she has allowed Miller to fill a void in the field. Both could still see time in goal though.

Well-coached, and never short on athletes, Schalick always finds a way to be a contender, even while “rebuilding.”

Prediction: Another season with double digits in the win column is likely, and if the team finds a little offensive punch, it’ll be right up there in the title chase.


Coach: Gary Jost (2nd year, 18-2)

Conference: CAL National II

Group: Non-Public B South

Last year: 18-2

Returning letterwinners: 4

Key returners: Sarah Buchanan (Sr., fwd./mid.); Sarah Pustizzi (Sr., def.); Annie Abbott (Sr., fwd.); Dana Dasilva (Soph., mid.); Amber Raines (Soph., def.mid.).

Top newcomers: Tia Dupont (Fr., mid./def.); Maddi Hagerty (Fr., GK); Ashley Mannion (Fr., def.); Madi Foster (Fr., mid./def.); Elizabeth Nealis (Fr., mid.); Dayne Aulffo (Soph., def.).

Outlook: The notable omission from the list of returning players is reigning Player of the Year Taylor Tighe. As a junior, Tighe scored 21 goals, but she tore her ACL during lacrosse season and is out for the year.

Also gone are standouts Tziarra King and Vashti Williams, who both transferred to Winslow. So what had the potential to be a season that surpassed last year’s record-breaking campaign is now one with tempered expectations — by OLMA’s high standards.

Buchanan is likely to provide the scoring punch for the Villagers. She has 53 career goals entering this season, and she has improved as a leader on the field. Abbott has also proven she can score, registering 11 goals last year.

But the team did graduate one of the best defenders in the CAL in Caitlyn Covella and its starting goalie. Jost said Hagerty should slide right in at keeper, but figuring out the back line could prove difficult. Pustizzi is solid in the back, and Raines will step right in at midfield, but their roles could change as the season progresses.

Last year, OLMA broke the school record for wins and didn’t lose until Oct. 18 against Vineland. With so many key pieces unexpectedly missing, a duplicate effort might be hard, but coming anywhere close still makes OLMA a team to beat.

Prediction: The Villagers still return enough to be a strong CAL National team and could be in that title race. Another 18-win season isn’t likely, but they shouldn’t be too far below that total.


Coach: Bill Ziefle (1st year)

Conference: CAL National II

Group: II South

Last year: 1-16-1

Returning letterwinners: 8

Key returners: Symone Sweazie (Sr., def.); Arely Sanchez (Sr., mid.); Susana Manriquez (Sr., def.); Sianai Flores (Sr., GK); April Fortoul (Jr., def.).

Top newcomers: Maritza Reyes (Sr., def.); Jenna Montana (Fr., fwd.); Dinora Angel (Fr., fwd.); Sydney Angel (Fr., fwd.), Raven Williams (Soph., fwd.).

Outlook: It’s a new coach and a fresh outlook for Bridgeton. With a lack of experience throughout the lineup, this season is all about learning the game. So far, Ziefle’s squad is working hard and moving well around the field, so there is some hope for a step forward.

In Sweazie, Bridgeton does boast one of the top defenders in the area. But without a lot of help around her, it’s difficult to shine. The team also lost standout keeper Jovan Childers to graduation.

There will be plenty of freshmen in the lineup as well, especially as Ziefle toys around with different formations and positions. Dinora and Sydney Angel show some promise up top, as does Williams.

A couple of unproven players are eager to learn the keeper position, and a leader like Sweazie will help that process along. But improving in small aspects of the game all over the field will be the goal.

Prediction: It’s a hard-working group, and a young one that could steal a couple wins, but the program is a few years out from contending for any titles.


Coach: Lauren Vanlier (1st year)

Conference: Tri-County Diamond

Group: III

Last year: 3-14

Returning letterwinners: 7

Key returners: Emily Ohara (Sr., def.); Taylor Magee (Sr., def.); Courtney Cline (Sr., def.); Kanei Green-Scott (Sr., def.); Megan Davis (Jr., mid.); Dayna Patitucci (Jr., fwd.); Aracelis Alvarez (Soph., def.).

Top newcomers: Madison Mayhew (Fr., GK).

Outlook: Vanlier takes over a Colts program in need of a fresh start, and that’s just what she intends to give it. She said every player started with a clean slate and had to earn their positions during the preseason.

What emerged is a senior-heavy defense in front of a capable freshman keeper in Mayhew. Patitucci returns to the offense as the team’s leading scorer from a year ago. She scored five goals as a sophomore.

Vanlier feels her defense and midfield will be a strength, so if a younger player can step up on offense and help complement Patitucci, Cumberland could get some more wins.

Prediction: The Colts are definitely rebuilding, but a new attitude and strong leadership should translate to a few more wins than last year.

Cumberland Christian

Coach: Christine Bennett (7th year)

Conference: Tri-State Christian Athletic Conference

Last year: 16-0-2

Retunring letterwinners: 6

Key returners: Jada Fields (Jr., mid.); Kate Riggins (Jr., fwd.); Angelina Lieze (Sr., mid.); Kelly McKeown (Jr., def.); Meredith Rehmann (Jr., def.); Tori Djakow (Soph., def.); Allison Federico (Sr., fwd.).

Top newcomers: Meaghan Parmer (Jr., def.); Dana Myers (Soph., mid.); Chyanne Smith (Soph., mid.).

Outlook: The Crusaders were simply the class of the TSCAC last season, going undefeated and winning their first title since 2004. Many players return from that squad, but there are some big holes to fill after graduation.

In Fields, Cumberland Christian boasts perhaps the best all-around player in the league, and one that would be a force on any other team in the area as well. She led the Crusaders with 14 goals last season and should have similar production this fall, if not better.

With Riggins as the complement scorer up top and Lieze helping out as a playmaker, the offense should be just as potent as last year.

Defensively, the Crusaders need some younger players to step up. The keeper spot is also now in the hands of a couple freshmen.

Prediction: Fields should shine again and the Crusaders will definitely be in the title hunt, even if this year’s squad doesn’t make it look quite as easy.


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