BELLEVILLE, NJ – The Belleville High School varsity girls’ soccer team, under second-year head coach Beth Garrett, have a good returning nucleus from last year’s squad that had a successful 12-5-1 season.
The returning varsity players:
- Nathalie Abreu, Defender
- Janelle Ramirez, Goalkeeper, Captain
- Krystal Rasczyk, Forward
- Lindsey Riera, Forward
- Jaylyanna Bratcher, Defender
- Kayla Cabezas, Midfielder
- Cesia Diaz, Midfielder
- Sam Doherty, Midfielder
- Gabi Lopez, Defender
- Alejandra Rodriguez, Defender
Ramirez will provide key leadership in goal as a senior captain.
“I have been lucky enough to know her since before I took over as coach,” said Garrett. “She was my student freshman year and it is great to see how she has grown. She is just one of those kids that every coach wants in their program. She sets the tone every day with her actions. She puts in the time in the weight room, on the field and leads by example. All the girls respect her and she quietly took on the role of leader before being named captain.”
The Bucs have a good group of promising freshmen: Sophia Bojorquez, Tiffany Escobar, Caroline Higa, Akemi Kanashiro, Tania Melgar, and Chennaya Tschopp.
The team’s experience, along with the freshmen, will prove key this season.
“All 10 returning players were starters for us last year, which is huge,” Garrett said. “Since we move up to the (Super Essex Conference) Liberty Division this year having girls who are experienced should allow for us to be competitive in the higher division. We also have several freshmen who we expect to have an immediate impact. We are still trying to find where they fit best on the field with the returning players, but they are all meshing well.
“Last season our juniors and seniors played against some top SEC teams and that experience will carry over into our 2018 campaign,” continued Garrett. “The newcomers provide some depth that we were lacking last year. By the end of 2017 we were a little banged up because of our numbers. This year we have freshmen who will be able to step in and take some pressure off the upperclassmen.”
The Bucs showed great work ethic during the offseason, much the coach’s delight.
“The girls worked hard all year doing strength and conditioning in preparation for 2018,” Garrett said. ”They have even worked with some of our other athletics coaches, Joe Pizzi (football, wrestling) and Chris Balz (football, basketball), in the weight room to get stronger and faster. Once preseason started, they put in the time to get better as a squad on the field. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
Garrett, indeed, is thrilled about this year’s team, which will host Caldwell in the season opener Friday, Sept. 7.
“Overall, I’m really excited for where our program is heading,” she said. “The girls work hard and hold each other accountable. They want us to be successful not just now but for years to come. We are going to continue to elevate the level of excellence everyday. It’s about creating a legacy for the next girls who come in.”
The following is the Bucs’ schedule (home games are at Clearman Field, unless otherwise noted):
Sept. 7, Caldwell 4 p.m.
Sept. 10, at Science Park, 4 p.m.
Sept. 12, at Mount St. Dominic Academy, 4 p.m.
Sept. 14, Columbia, 4 p.m.
Sept. 17, at Nutley, 4 p.m.
Sept. 20, Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22, at East Orange Campus, 10 a.m.
Sept. 25, at Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.
Sept. 28, at Newark Academy, 4 pm.
Oct. 1, West Essex, 4 p.m.
Oct. 4, Cedar Grove, at BHS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6, Morris Tech, 10 a.m.
Oc. 9, Verona, 4 p.m.
Oct. 11, at Millburn, 4 p.m.
Oct. 15, West Orange, 4 p.m.
Oct. 17, at Payne Tech, 4 p.m.
Oct. 18, Ferris, 10:30 a.m.
Oct. 25, Pompton Lakes, 4:15 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Beth Ann Garrett