By Dean Koenig (V)
The boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer teams both had unforgettable seasons this fall, adding to the historical success of both programs.
The girls, coached by Head Coach Lauren Molinaro, topped off their great season by clinching the NJSIAA Non-Public “A” State Tournament trophy.
The girls had a week to recover from a disappointing loss against Ridge High School in the Somerset County Tournament before their first state tournament game against Bishop Eustace. Team captain Leah Mangold (VI) described the state tournament as, “a clean slate, a chance to prove ourselves and make something special of our season.”
Since Pingry girls’ soccer also claimed the state title last season, the players were committed to upholding their reputation.
Mangold said that the team found its rhythm when the girls “started to find that perfect balance between having fun and also staying focused.” Proving Mangold’s words to be true, Pingry put on two dominant performances in the first two rounds of the tournament. Madi Pilla’s (VI) four goals in the sectional semifinal game gave her the record for most goals scored in a single season by a Pingry Girls’ Soccer player.
The closest of Pingry’s state tournament games came against Red Bank Catholic in the South Jersey sectional final. Behind two goals from Pilla and one from Mangold, Pingry won the match 3-1 and took home the NJSIAA Non-Public “A” South Jersey title.
The South Jersey final win matched up Big Blue with DePaul, the winner of the North Jersey section, for the state group final at Kean University. With goals from five different players, Big Blue proved to be the best team in the NJSIAA Non-Public A group, defeating DePaul by a score of 6-0.
Reflecting on the season, Liv Volpe (V) said, “It was almost like déjà vu of last year. We had high expectations going in, some of which were disappointed, but we peaked at the right time and were able to finish on the highest note possible.”
Complementing the girls’ incredible season, the boys’ team made a run of its own in the NJSIAA North Jersey Non-Public “A” Tournament under Head Coach Miller Bugliari. Just as the girls did, the boys started the tournament strong, defeating Bergen Catholic 4-2 with two goals from captain Will Bugliari (VI). The boys were then faced with perhaps the toughest challenge of their season: Delbarton. Big Blue was able to hold Delbarton, one of the nation’s top high school teams, scoreless the entire game, winning 1-0 off of Aidan Gaynor’s (V) goal late in the game.
Speaking on this triumph, Gaynor said, “It was hands down one of the best moments in my Pingry career … so many people came out to watch, which was awesome for an away game, and it definitely won’t be forgotten by any of the players.”
The team went on to lose 5-3 in the final round to Seton Hall Prep, a team that had previously only let up three total goals the entire season.
Both the boys’ and girls’ seasons were nothing short of amazing, and neither the players nor the fans will forget the excitement and thrill of each game.