By Sydney Riepl, Features Editor
The varsity soccer team ended its season with a surprising run in the Non-Public B South tournament, earning a spot in the finals despite being ranked 12th of 14 in the division. The varsity squad also qualified for the Shore Conference Tournament for the second year in a row despite being the newest team in the conference.
“It’s a huge stepping stone that kind of validates that we’re here and that we’re going to be competitive moving forward. I think it’s great for the community that our teams are competing and advancing farther and father in the State Tournaments,” head coach Ken Santos said. “I think this year, what motivated us to win was we really had an average, regular season and then we decided kind of late that we were really going to put our heart and soul into this and the girls turned a switch and we just started playing great soccer and that’s what leads us to the three tournament wins.”
The 12th-seeded Monarchs defeated 5th-seeded Our Lady of Mercy in the first round of the Non-Public B Tournament, resulting in the continuation of the team’s season. The team prevailed, beating their opponent 3-0. Senior Katie Venezia and junior Colleen Kelly lead the team to victory in their first States game with two and one goals, respectively, while senior goalkeeper Colleen Cusat shut out the opponent.
The team faced 4th-seeded Holy Cross Prep in the quarterfinal round. Goals by Venezia, Ward and sophomore Alexis Nerenberg, along with five saves by Cusat lead to narrow 3-2 victory and a berth to the semi-finals, where the Monarchs faced top-seeded Wardlaw-Hartridge. A lone goal by freshman Cameryn Keane in the first half of the game secured the 1-0 win and advanced the team to the finals of the tournament, where they lost to conference rival St. Rose by the same 1-0 score.
The team’s 4-2 regular season division record and the impressive post-season play reflects the program’s progress in its short six year history.
“[My] freshman year was our first year as a varsity team. It was hard for us that first year because we didn’t have seniors and no one outside of Trinity [Hall] knew who we were. Now people around our area know who we are,” senior captain Kelsey O’Kelly said. “Our team has [players from] all four grades now, and we have over 40 kids on both JV and Varsity. My freshman year we lost almost every game, but now we were not only able to qualify for the Shore Conference Tournament, but advanced to the finals of states.”
With leading scorers Keane, Kelly, senior Hannah Reynolds, and Ward, the team ended with an overall record of 8-9-2. The team tied against Holmdel (2-2) and Monmouth Regional (0-0), two known powerhouses in the Shore Conference, but defeated other conference teams such as Manchester Township (1-0), Mater Dei (2-1) and (2-0), Ranney (5-2) and Keyport (5-1) to add to their record.
“I think our team had some really great accomplishments this year,” Ward said. “We qualified for the Shore Conference Tournament for the second year in a row which is huge. We held our own against some top 10 Shore Conference teams, and I think we overall had a really successful season. I can’t wait for next season, and hopefully we can make it to the second round of the Shore Conference Tournament and make some Monarch history.”