The nation gets painted pink every October to help raise awareness for breast cancer. The Woodbridge community has made it a yearly occasion to devote a day to help the cause.
Woodbridge High School put together a trio of games on Saturday. The morning started with the boys squad facing Middletown South, a game that ended in a tie. Then the junior varsity group played at noon, which had the same fate as the boys game, finishing in a draw.
“The boys were here earlier, so we got to see the girls support the boys, and vise versa,” Woodbridge coach Dan Mortensen said. “It brought both programs together. You even see with the crowd up there that even the community joins us as well. It’s for a good cause and makes for a nice day.”
“The team came here about 8:45 to help set up,” sophomore Gabby D’Emilio said. “We were just hanging out and having fun supporting the boys and our JV team. We were together having a good time.”
After the JV team ended its close affair, it was time for the Barrons girls soccer team to take the field to conclude the afternoon. They were sporting pink camouflage jerseys, different from their typical red and black colors.
A final chant of “team” from their huddle and multiple handshakes indicated that Woodbridge was ready to prove its worth. The girls capped off a pivotal week with a victory over J.P. Stevens, 3-0.
“We worked as a team today,” D’Emilio said. “We probably should’ve finished more, but the pressure we created was very good during the first 10-15 minutes.”
Just 10 minutes into the games the Barrons were able to find their spot on the scoreboard. D’Emilio was able to send a ball past the keeper, forcing a J.P. Stevens defender to make a last resort attempt to knock the ball away, but instead it was misguided into the back of the net.
Although D’Emilio didn’t get the stats on that select play, her hustle helped start the afternoon on the right foot. It didn’t take long for D’Emilio to add to the cushion. The sophomore doubled the margin five minutes later when she finished off a corner kick with a header.
Woodbridge’s star player registered her fourth multi-goal effort of the season at the tail end of the first half when she once again scored on a corner kick, this time using her lethal right foot.
“One thing we talked about this summer is we knew she could score goals because she showed that last year, but the next step I wanted her to take is make everyone around her better,” Mortensen said. “You saw that in the beginning of the season, now she has 13 goals and nine assists. I told her those two should always be even. We know that when she has the ball at her feet she can make everyone better.”
Saturday, D’Emilio took the game into her own hands by creating constant havoc in front of the net. Although her goal scoring is identical from last season, D’Emilio worked hard during the offseason to become a more well-rounded player.
“I feel like I became stronger as a player both physically and mentally,” D’Emilio said. “I definitely created a better bond with the team by getting closer with them. I also have better touches, better techniques, better skill growth throughout the past year.”
Goalie Justine Stefura continued to be a sure bet in net. The senior made several high volume saves to hang onto the shutout, her sixth of the season and second straight this week.
“I don’t think she gets the recognition that she deserves,” Mortensen said. “I think she is a top goal keeper in the GMC. You can see it in the way she comes out and controls the game. She doesn’t really let too many slip ups happen.”
The Barrons are playing their best soccer at the right time of the season. They swept the past week with wins over Edison, Sayreville and J.P. Stevens.
The Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament is right around the corner and Woodbridge has made a late push for a respectable seed. With the win, the Barrons add an impressive victory over a Red Division foe to their resume.
“I have been pushing them to work on our resume heading into the seeding meeting,” Mortensen said. “We had a chance early on against Old Bridge, we played them tough but the result didn’t go our way.
It’s a refresher today. We do have goals that we need to meet and we always have to keep chopping away. Today we were able to knock one of those out.”
Staff Writer Steven Macri: email@example.com