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Mater Dei ready for another run in state girls soccer tournament

first_imgTwo years removed from winning a state sectional championship and falling just short of repeating a year ago, the Mater Dei High School girls soccer team embarks on another run toward the NJSIAA Non-Public B South title. The Seraphs (11-4-2), who are seeded second and received a first-round bye, face No. 7 Cardinal McCarrick High School (9-6) in the quarterfinals on Nov. 7.Mater Dei, co-champions of the Shore Conference B Central Division with a 6-1-1 division record, enters the tournament on a high note after picking up its 10th shutout of the season in a 4-0 victory over Monsignor Donovan High School on Nov. 1. The Seraphs spent time earlier in the week practicing and allowing players with some bumps and bruises to rest up, according to head coach James Gelpke.The Seraphs won the Non-Public B South title in 2011 as the 11th seed before losing in the overall Non-Public B championship game against Oak Knolls High School, 5-0.As the No. 4 seed last season, the Seraphs were poised to repeat when they blew through their first three opponents en route to a finals matchup against division foe and No. 4 seed St. Rose High School. The Purple Rose ended up shutting out Mater Dei, 3-0, but Gelpke’s team takes that experience into this year’s tournament with hopes of a better outcome.“We’ve been there before and know what it takes,” the coach said.With St. Rose (12-3-2 overall, 6-1-1 B Central) on the other side of the bracket as the top seed, a finals rematch could be in the cards, should both teams advance through their games in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Gelpke will have his team prepared for each game along the way, though.“We don’t take anyone for granted,” he said. “We’ll be prepared, do some research online, have someone at the games and do some adjustments.”The Seraphs are well-prepared on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents 35- 12 so far this season. Juniors Julia Mc- Carthy (11 goals, 11 assists) and Lindsey Florio (13 goals, seven assists) have been strong leaders for the team offensively.“Not too many teams have the luxury of saying they have two 30-goal scorers, and they’re still juniors,” Gelpke said. “I’m really comfortable now and in the future. They are two girls that, when they play together, are unbeatable.“I tell them they are real good when they are apart, but they are unstoppable when they play together,” the coach continued.Senior captain Maria Carroll (three goals, six assists) and junior Brooke Trotta (four goals, five assists), who Gelpke considers “one of the hardest working individuals on the team,” have also contributed on offense. For all the good work the Seraphs have done scoring this year, it is the team’s defense that Gelpke truly appreciates. “I think one of the benefits we have is that we play good team defense,” the coach said. “Defensively, one of the things we started three or four years ago was to play good team defense. A lot of the goals against [us] were breakdowns in defense.” Many of Mater Dei’s goals this year have also generated from good defense, according to the coach. “Offensively, we’ve been very creative,” he said. “A lot of goals we score originate from the back.” Junior goalkeeper Katie Viscardi has been instrumental in that department. She has 127 saves and nine shutouts this season, and she has “single-handedly won some games for us this year,” Gelpke said.The play of sophomore sweeper Theresa Osborne (one goal, one assist), who is considered one of the best overall players on the club by her coach and teammates. Junior right back Kristen Mc- Gaughey have also been important to the team’s defensive game.While the Seraphs would have liked to win B Central outright instead of sharing the title with St. Rose, winning the division accomplished one of the Seraphs’ three goals for this season. The second was to win the Shore Conference Tournament, which they entered as the No. 17 seed and lost to No. 16 seed Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, 1-0, on an overtime goal in the first round on Oct. 23.“I was very disappointed with our seeding, but we played hard against Rumson, which is deeper,” Gelpke said.Even in the loss, the coach said he embraces facing top competition and even getting in a game on a turf field, as they did against Rumson-Fair Haven.As for the team’s third goal of getting a ring for winning the state tournament, that is still within their reach. It all begins against Cardinal McCarrick.“We’re going to do our best and fight hard,” Gelpke said. By NEIL BORENSTEIN Staff Writer MATER DEI last_img

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