BEAT BERGEN COUNTY 10-0 TO WIN REGION XIX TITLE
By Mike Ready
LINCROFT – After blowing through all of its Region XIX opponents, going undefeated (11-0), and out-scoring them 71 goals to 5 goals, the competition is about to take a dramatic tick upward for the Brookdale women’s soccer team.
After crushing Bergen Community College 10-0 Saturday in the Region XIX finals, the Jersey Blues advanced to the NJCAA DIII National Soccer Tournament where six nationally ranked teams will be in the field of eight.
Brookdale (15-1) has won 14 straight games after an early season loss at No.6 Finger Lakes Community College, and are No.1 in the nation in NJCAA DIII play.
“We’re ready for the tougher competition,” head coach Katie Miller said. “Earlier this season we played two teams from Region III, with one being our only loss of the season, so they have that ingrained in their heads and know what to expect once the tournament begins.
Brookdale last won the Region XIX title in 2006 when Miller was an All-Region XIX defender for the team which eventually lost in the national title game 1-0 to Richland, Texas. Brookdale women's soccer has yet to win a national championship.
In Saturday’s 10-0 win, sophomore forward Alexa Masino (Howell H.S.), a first team All-Region XIX selection, found the back of the net four times, including the first two goals of the game, giving her 19 goals on the season, 10th in the nation.
“I’m really excited,” Masino said. “After losing in the regions last season it’s so exciting to be going to the national tournament. The teams will be tougher but we just need to stay focused and communicate and I think we’ll be okay. This is the closest I’ve ever been to a team, I love every single one of my teammates. They all can play and I wouldn’t be here without them all.”
Region XIX Player of the Year, sophomore midfielder Chelsea James (Howell H.S.), scored three goals and assisted on another before leaving the game early in the second half with an ankle sprain, but is expected to be fine for the tournament.
James leads the Blues in scoring with 22 goals and 18 assists for 62 points, which is second in the nation for points and fourth for goals scored. James was also named Offensive Player of the Game.
Sophomore defender Lauren Bowler (Red Bank Regional), an All-Region XIX performer, was named Defensive Player of the Game and had two outstanding corner kick assists on Masino’s first two goals of the game that broke the ice and really got the Blues rolling.
“We score a lot off corner kicks,” Bowler said. “I just give all the credit to my teammates for being in the right place. The award means everything to me but I’m so thankful to have Devon (Carney), who always has my back and Ali (Maddock – Henry Hudson) and Caitlin (Fisher – Howell H.S.) as well.
“Going to the nationals is huge,” Bowler added. “I just love this team, this is the most fun I’ve ever had playing soccer. I think our chances are great, we just have to keep playing hard and keep passing to feet and win can definitely win this. When we keep the game under control and keep possession I don’t think anyone can touch us.”
Freshman attacker Caroline Duerr (Manasquan H.S.), first team Region XIX, had a goal (17) and an assist (8) to give her 42 points on the year, good for 14th in the nation in points and 12th in goals scored.
“It’s so awesome to come in as a freshman and contribute,” Duerr said. “I love my teammates and Katie (Miller) and Shauney (assistant coach Sarah Shaughnessy) so much. We have so much fun and I just love being an asset to the team, it feels so great.
“The tournament is going to be a step up,” Duerr added. “But I think we’re ready for it. Our practices have been such high tempo and we practice so well, that I think we have a good shot. Every player on the team knows how to play the game no matter where they’re on the field; it’s a blessing. We want it so bad (national championship) and have been working so hard since August that if we keep our heads on straight I definitely think we can take it.”
Amanda Anastasia (Middletown South) and Keara Homan (Manasquan H.S.) also scored for the Blues, with Simone McEnough (2) (Neptune H.S.), Carney, Brooke Tartis (Neptune H.S.) and Meghan Begley (Mater Dei H.S.) also picking up assists.
Second team All-Region XIX goalkeeper, Erin Kinneman (Matawan Regional), posted her eighth shutout win of the season.
“If they play their game – possession, talking to each other and passing to feet - we got it,” Miller said. “It would mean everything for the girls and the program. I love this team and I’m going to enjoy and take advantage of the time I have left with them; they’re special.”
Brookdale will travel to Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, New York for the tournament and play its first game on Thursday, November 7 at 5:30 p.m. The Blues quarterfinal opponent will be SUNY DELHI (10-5). The Broncos won their region beating No.5 Genesee (12-3-1) in the finals, 3-2 in OT and No.13 Tompkins Cortland (10-4-1) in the semifinals, 4-1, to advance.
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