Mackenzie Albert, NHS freshman Varsity Soccer

What was it like to play soccer in your freshman year at Nutley High School?
It was a great experience and an honor to be able to play with the Nutley Varsity Girls Soccer team this season. I made many new unbreakable bonds with my teammates and I was given the opportunity to play on a very talented team. Coach DiPiano taught us that “Hard Work Works” and that was what motivated us this season.

Was there something you learned about playing at the high school varsity level?
I learned that being on the varsity team is much more than showing up to practices and playing in games. It is about connecting with new people and working hard to achieve the same goals.

You did pretty great on the field this season, leading the team in goals scored! Was that something that you expected? How come?
Thank you. I did not expect to lead the team in goals this year. I was hoping to be a supporting character in an established lineup. My teammates were the key ingredient to helping me score all season long. We were a team where many girls assisted and we had a number of multi-game

What will you be looking to improve next year?
There will be a lot of new faces on the team next year. We are losing nine seniors and they will all be missed. We have a very strong core group of returning players and I’m sure that with hard work we will be county and state contenders for years to come. We fell short for the SEC League Championship and again in the County Tournament. I would love another opportunity to capture the titles for Nutley High School.

You have three more years left in high school. What are some your individual and team goals?
I would love the team to win the County Tournament and the State Sectional Title before I graduate. Individually, I want to continue to play as strong as I did this season. I hope to increase my strength and stamina over the next few years. I learned firsthand that high school soccer is very physical, so conditioning is very important.

What were some of the team’s bonding rituals?
The team is like a family. The night before every game, the entire team gets together at one house for a pasta dinner. Each family hosts the dinner at least once a season and it’s fun to see the different food and desserts each time. We typically come to the dinner directly from practice and we get to unwind together. We also try to get together at least once a week for a team lunch.

Do you have any role models?
My parents and my grandparents are my greatest role models. They are very supportive, loving and they always have the best advice and guidance. I have also been blessed with some wonderful coaches that have been tremendous role models over the years. Coach Roger Real was my first travel-soccer coach from second grade until sixth grade. He molded me into the player I am today. I am lucky to play with his daughter Olivia on the Nutley varsity team as well as on my club team and I still receive great feedback after every game from Coach Roger. Coach Rich Bentley is my current club coach at Match Fit Academy and previously at SDFC. Coach Rich has fine-tuned my game and has been a great mentor, assisting in college recruiting and showcases.

In addition to soccer, do you participate in any clubs or school activities?
I currently play soccer at Match Fit Academy based out of Denville. We play on the regional and national level, so there is a lot of traveling events all over the country. I am currently trying out for the Nutley High School basketball team and in the spring, I plan on trying out for the softball team. I started refereeing youth soccer and basketball for the Parks & Recreation this year and I hope to continue throughout my high school years. I am currently a member of the History Club at Nutley High School.

Are you looking forward to celebrating the holidays?
Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays. Coming from an Italian family, we typically have huge, multi-course dinners. I’m looking forward to decorating the house for Christmas, baking cookies and spending time with my family and friends.