Rumson-Fair Haven’s Schuyler DeBree was the only senior and the only captain on the Bulldogs’ girls soccer team.
The pressure of being the most experienced upperclassman was a challenge that she excelled at this season. DeBree led the Bulldogs to a 16-7-1 record, an NJSIAA Central Group II title and the NJSIAA Group II state title. The latter was only the second girls soccer state title in school history with the first coming in 1998.
“I think because we were considered the underdogs, we went in thinking that we had nothing to lose in the NJSIAA tournament. And because of that, we played relaxed and we played to have fun and we did have a lot of good matchups as well,” said DeBree of Rumson-Fair Haven’s state title run. “Our defense was a major reason that we won this year. We had some very talented outside and center backs that could mark the best player on the opposite team and completely shut them down in really important games.”
No game was more important than the NJSIAA Group II state final, which Rumson-Fair Haven won 2-1 over Bernards on Nov. 23 at The College of New Jersey.
Rumson-Fair Haven coach Mary Beth Coleman said the Bulldogs took their cues from DeBree this season.
“Schuyler had an incredible postseason. This can be attributed to her leadership qualities and leaving the field every game of her senior year knowing that she did everything possible to win the game. During state tournament time, the team fully understood that with a loss the season would end,” Coleman said. “This motivated Schuyler and the team to leave it all out on the field playing strong and physical on each and every play to advance to the next round. Despite the team’s youth, we had great chemistry, peaked at the right time and the team believed in each other.
“This led to an amazing postseason run and capturing the Group II title.”
DeBree was a four-year starter at midfield for the Bulldogs. She had 13 goals and a career-high 10 assists and scored at least 13 goals for the third consecutive year. For her career, DeBree had 46 goals and 23 assists and helped Rumson-Fair Haven go 47-31-3 in her four years on the team.
“I felt proud of myself. I felt proud of my team as a whole. I was proud of our coaches too. The whole school came together to push us through the postseason,” DeBree said. “Pride was the main emotion. The rest was just happiness that I had such a great team around me and great girls and the fact that we could end our season on a win. Not many girls get to end on a win for their last high school game.”
And not many girls can say they played in the National Soccer Coaches Association’ All-American High School Girls Soccer game on Dec. 7 in Raleigh, N.C., representing the East team. DeBree was picked as the East MVP while playing center back, a position she seldom plays.
“Schuyler is the true definition of ‘scholar student-athlete.’ Not only does she perform on the soccer field but she excels in her academics as well. Being that we graduated nine seniors from last year’s team, she was our only senior. She embraced the position of captain and led by example,” Coleman said. “Despite the outcome of our games, she always saw “the good’ or ‘lesson learned’ out of each game.
“Her teammates trusted her on the field to get the job done and in return she had great confidence in her young teammates supporting her. The team wanted Schuyler to leave RFH with a winning season and they did everything in their power to do just that.”
Coleman said that two of DeBree’s better games this season were the NJSIAA Central Group II title game and the NJSIAA Group II state title game.
“Schuyler took charge in every game but the most important one was in the CJ Group II final vs Delran. In this game she was determined to come home with a sectional banner. She controlled the game and was a force to be beckoned with,” Coleman said. “She scored two goals — the first one being a 25-yard direct kick from the right side of the field that went over the goalie’s head into the left-side panel and the second one being beating two defenders and scoring on a left-footed shot. During the Group II state title game, she controlled the midfield an assisted on the second goal which secured us the win.”
DeBree will continue her soccer career at Duke University next fall after leading Rumson-Fair Haven to one of the most memorable seasons in school history.