The Skyland Conference girls soccer landscape is finally complete.
After three years fielding only a junior varsity program, South Hunterdon has finally made the jump, as the Eagles will move up to varsity for the first time.
“We wanted to make sure that everything was ready and in place,” said coach Bay Pedersen, who has guided the South Hunterdon program since its inception in 2010. “As a small school, in order to be successful, we wanted to make sure we were covering all our bases and going about it the right away.”
After three years getting used to the waters of the Skyland Conference as a JV program, the Eagles should be a good fit in the Valley Division.
South Hunterdon had a chance to face several of its conference foes last season playing a junior varsity schedule, and the Eagles held their own, Pedersen said, so he expects his team to be competitive right off the bat.
“Everyone’s super excited,” Pedersen said. “The girls are up and pumped and they’re ready. We’ve become a team over the course of the past three years instead of a bunch of individuals just out there playing.”
The Eagles feature three players who have been with the program since the start and the veterans will be key, as South Hunterdon moves up to the big time. Seniors Lauren Windeborn, Jessica McGregor and Kaylee Hoyer will be counted on to lead, with Windeborn and McGregor projected to be big parts of the offense.
With quite a few freshmen starting, highlighted by Abbie Garrison, who Pederson expects to have an immediate impact, the future is bright.
Getting the call
The name ‘Corboz’ has been synonymous with big-time soccer in Central Jersey for the better part of the past seven years.
First came Daphne Corboz, who starred for Watchung Hills from 2007-2010, while her brother, Mael, shone for Pingry until graduating in 2011 – he is now a captain playing at Rutgers. And the lineage has continued as Rachel Corboz has put together her own storied career for the Big Blue.
Now, entering her senior year at Pingry, Rachel Corboz has taken her game national.
Corboz was one of only 24 girls in the country — and the only one from New Jersey — selected to attend the U.S. Soccer U18 Women’s National Team training camp in August, as the midfielder spent eight days at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in California.
“The competition was great,” said Corboz, who plans to join her sister playing for Georgetown University next fall. “The girls are all going to amazing schools for soccer, and it was just a really good experience. The speed of play was so quick.”
Corboz said she knew on the national coach’s radar, and that she was being looked at for consideration, but she was surprised the call came so soon. The best part, Corboz said, is the selection validates all the sacrifice and hard work she’s endured to make herself the kind of player that would receive such an invitation.
“I thought if I always worked hard, I would eventually get to where I wanted to be,” she said. “So getting called up was great. It showed me that hard work and desire would pay off. Knowing you’re in that top group of players in your age group, top in the country, makes you feel good.”
Another season means another ride on the coaching carousel, and this year’s edition features six local programs that have made changes at the top.
North Hunterdon will have a new coach for the first time in over a decade, as Matt Maurella takes over for Garrett Lelko, who stepped down after 10 seasons to spend more time with his family.
Maurella was the Lions’ freshman coach last year after assisting with the boy’s program the previous four seasons. Maurella, who also coaches the North Hunterdon fencing team, played soccer at Nazareth (Pa.) High School before playing two years for Penn State Berks, a campus of Penn State University.
Piscataway will also have a new head coach, as former Chiefs star Jen Vroman takes over from Adrian McConney, who departs after 11 seasons.
Vroman, who graduated in 2004, was a member of the 2002 Piscataway team, which is one of only two teams other than East Brunswick ever to win the GMC Tournament. The Chiefs beat the Bears in the final that season with Heather O’Reilly playing as a senior for East Brunswick.
Middlesex made a change at the top as well, as Tim Morris takes the reins from Heide Figel, who departs after 11 seasons. Thomas, a former standout at Metuchen, spent the past two seasons as Figel’s assistant.
John Campbell won’t be back at Mount St. Mary after 12 years at the helm, as Phillip Iuliano takes over. Iuliano, who played semi-professional soccer after graduating from St. Mary in Elizabeth, has been coaching youth soccer in New Jersey since 1999.
Jonna DeFalco’s departure from Gill St. Bernard’s after nine seasons gives the Knights a new head coach for the first time since 2003 as Mike Williams takes over. Williams previously coached varsity at Immaculata, where he guided the girls team in 2008.
Former FDU assistant Lee Pollard is the new head coach at Immaculata after Matt Farrell moved on after two seasons.