It’s another year older, another year wiser type of deal for the Woodbridge High School girls soccer team. The gained experience has allowed the Barrons to become more mentally prepared for their competition as Dan Mortensen’s crew has learned to move on and forget.
Just three days removed from a tough Greater Middlesex Conference White Division loss to North Brunswick, the Barrons were able to rebound on Thursday night underneath the lights of Nicholas A. Priscoe Stadium.
Woodbridge was able to supply immense pressure on Edison and force a corner kick during the first half. Corner kicks are typically an area the Barrons struggle in, but on Thursday they were able to come through in a big way. Kelsey Savoia was able to jump in front of a defender and put the ball in the back of the net for the opening score of the game. Woodbridge was then able to hold on and beat Edison 2-1.
“I always try to get involved, but scoring is usually my second priority,” Savoia said. “When I score I feel like I’m doing something.”
With Gabby D’Emilio and Jordan Vazquez typically leading the charge on the offensive half of the field, scoring opportunities are rare for Savoia. That is why the sophomore has to take advantage of her chances when they appear.
“It’s important because you might not get them in other games where you are keeping containment in the back,” Savoia said about capitalizing on her chances. “It encourages me to keep going and score more goals for my team. I want to finish off the season strong.”
Mortensen stresses the importance of starting each game strong on a daily basis. His team was able to build a two goal lead when Sophia Gomez released a laser from 25-yards out that found the right corner of the net.
“Sophia is able to hit it during any game from anywhere,” Mortensen said. “Today she was able to get her foot on it and score. What I always try to tell the girls is the first 10 minutes is the most important. We came out strong, and we have been coming out strong in a lot of our games. They are just now learning how to close out the games.”
Edison turned the tables in the second half and found a weakness in the Barrons’ defense. Woodbridge goal keeper Justine Stefura was busy in the net, but she was up for the challenge. She made a sliding save on a breakaway with 17:45 left in the competition and was able to amplify her confidence after that save.
“It definitely pushes me up because that could have definitely been on the scoreboard and we could have lost this game,” Stefura said. We came together as a team and pushed back. Coming out and making that save was me being there for my teammates.”
Stefura has been the GMC’s best kept secret. She is quickly becoming one of the best goal keepers in the area and her senior leadership showed in a big game against Edison.
“She’s been making some spectacular saves,” Mortensen said about Stefura. “I always tell her that she will be one of the best GMC goalies. I think she deserves to be in the discussion.”
Stefura limited the damage with her aggressive style of play, but the Eagles continued to attack throughout the game. Felicia Forsythe used her speed to get past the defense and finally break up the shutout with 7:41 left in the game.
“I saw Edison play once and I knew she was going to be a problem,” Mortensen said. “We had a game plan to try and stop her, but we got away from it. She is very dangerous and gives a lot of teams trouble.”
Thursday’s win shows the Barrons’ tremendous growth as a team within the span of a season. They were able to beat the odds and get a crucial victory and they now have their sights on contending for the White Division title.
Next up on their schedule is a clash with Bishop Ahr, which beat Woodbridge 4-1 the first time this season.
“As being a contender for the White Division we want this game a little bit more than Bishop Ahr,” Sefura said. “We are so close to them. Everytime we play them we are so close to them, it doesn’t show on the scoreboard, but we are definitely close to them.”
Satff Writer Steven Macri: email@example.com