Coming back from a successful 2016 season with a record of 18-0-4, the Lady Raiders soccer team is ready to pick up where they left off for an even better season this fall. With 13 seniors on the team, the girls are working hard to get as far as they can for the county and state tournaments.
“Moving on from last year we definitely had to build up the midfield because we lost so many key midfielders to graduation,” Senior captain Ashley Vincent said. The team has been filling in the shoes of the players who graduated last year. They have been looking to improve utilizing the whole field while other teams are defending them as a tactic to get the ball up the pitch easier.
After working hard throughout the summer in weight room, captain’s practices, and double-session practices, the girls are ready to play against their biggest competitors: Westfield, Union, Cranford, and Oak Knoll. Even when they oppose a tough team, the team works together to have a successful game.
“Varsity girls soccer does a great job of finding a way to get the ball to the back of the net,” senior captain Taylor Diggs said. “Even when we are struggling to get a rhythm we always find a way.”
Head coach Kevin Ewing has a lot of hopes for this season, especially since there are new players added to the roster this year.
“We have inexperienced players playing key roles,” Coach Ewing said, “So we have to keep growing and getting better each game.”
Key players include Taylor Diggs, Kerri Mcneely, Erika Muskus, Corrine Lyght, Gabby Aloe and Sabrina Dilollo. In addition to key players, the Lady Raiders also use key strategies such as one-touch passes, which keep them from tiring out, and is one of the reasons they can out-play different teams as well. They also have been working on winning balls off of punts and kicks for a quick counter attack to goal.
Overall, the Lady Raiders have the determination and drive to be able to succeed this season, especially how they constantly support each other from the sidelines.
The team is working towards its eighth-straight county title, and acknowledges that there’s a lot of effort and practice that has to be put in in order to achieve that goal. They enjoy playing at Kean University for the county title and will work towards reaching that as well as the state tournament.
“A lot of people look at us as a whole new team from last year, and may not think we’re as capable of getting as far as we did last year,” Vincent said, “This year I’m really looking forward to proving people wrong.”
Athlete Spotlight: Kerri McNeely, senior
How do you plan to improve from last year?
We are looking to go all the way in the state tournament this year. Personally, to improve from last year i am looking to stay more composed on the field
What are you looking forward to this year?
The team as a whole is looking forward to making it to, and winning county finals. We know we can do it, it’s just a matter of time.
How did you prepare during the preseason?
We did a lot of running and training during preseason to make sure we were prepared both physically and technically.
What are your personal goals for this year?
My goal for this year is to finish out my last high school season with no regrets. I want to score more goals at the end of this season than Idid last season.
What are your team goals for this year?
Our teams goal for this year is to keep working as hard as we can everyday to win the county title and state title
What does the team do well?
We put our hearts into every game we go into. Our team has a lot of chemistry that we carry onto the field.