Miranda makes it happen as Spartan girls soccer gets key win over Hopewell Valley

Michaela Miranda, who has been around Steinert girls soccer forever, made her presence felt today with a goal and an assist in the Spartans 4-0 win at Hopewell Valley (Photo by Rich Fisher)

By Rich Fisher

Sep. 26: For Michaela Miranda, it’s always been about Steinert girls’ soccer.

“I tried to be around it whenever I could,” Miranda said after helping the Spartans to four second-half goals in a 4-0 win at Hopewell Valley today. “I wanted to be the ball girl all the time. I was always here.”

She was there to watch sister Stephanie play, and now she waits to get critiques from big sis. Turns out Stephanie, nicknamed “Trouble” back in the day, is Michaela’s harshest critic and biggest fan.

“Every game she texts me and says good luck,” Miranda said. “After the game she’ll text me and say, ‘You know, you could have played a little better.’ Like in the Notre Dame game she said that, and I knew I could play better. But she’s helped me a lot.”

Hopefully it was a good text after this one, as Miranda scored the game’s first goal and chipped in with an assist as the Spartans (5-1-1) moved to 2-0 in the Colonial Valley Conference’s Patriot Division.

“Mick is awesome, she’s very soccer savvy,” coach Mike “Stinger” Hastings said. “She knows where to be, she’s got great vision on the field. She sees the field well, her touch is tremendous. She’s been around; she’s an experienced player. She brings that element to the game.”

She also brought her team the goal it needed when a throw-in skittered through the box before she teed it up and slammed it into the right corner 4:20 into the second half.

“I didn’t really think it was that good of a hit, I thought it was going wide,” Miranda said. “The ball was left there for me, so I buried it.”

The goal would be the impetus Steinert needed to keep going. As has been the case this season, the Spartans seem to catch fire offensively once they break through.

“Obviously, coming here you know it’s going to be a tight game,” Hastings said. “I think getting the first goal kind of showed us that ‘Hey, this is a game we’re in, a game we can win.’ I think that gave us some momentum and as the game progressed they got hungrier and hungrier.”

DeLisa scored on a high, lofting shot with under 12 minutes left, Lynzie Morgan converted a cross into the short corner and Kaylie Skillman used a nifty move to get herself a breakaway and score in the final 40 seconds.

It was the first goal of the season for DeLisa and Skillman, and the fact that four different players scored should not be a surprise. The Spartans’ team leaders only have three, but seven players have between two and three goals, and 12 players have scored at least one. That balance has made Steinert tough to defend and today’s win was a good illustration of that.

It was Hastings first victory against Hopewell since he took over Steinert four years ago, and he felt it was his team’s best overall effort this year from start to finish. He praised the play of DeLisa, Kristen Pirrocco, Ashley Navarro and Chloe Zoldi in the back, as that group shut down some skilled Hopewell scorers.

“We got phenomenal play from our back line,” Hastings said. “Kristen Pirrocco played out of her mind and gets two assists, Gabby gets a goal. Ashley had to step up in the back because Tati (Dorner) has an ankle issue; so Ashley stepped in early for us and really settled into that position. And Chloe Zoldi was solid.”

Hastings also felt goalie Erika Golik, who made six saves, did everything she had to in order to get a shutout.

“Golik knew when to come out,” the coach said. “She was organized back there, and a clean sheet is always cool.”

* * *

Steinert’s girls were the lone township team to win today. Nottingham’s boys gave Princeton a battle in a 1-0 loss and the Northstar girls fell to the Little Tigers, 3-1, as Gia German scored yet another goal.

Robbinsville blanked the Hamilton boys, 1-0, on a second-half goal and the Raven girls took a 3-0 win over the Hornets.

Max DiPierro’s goal wasn’t enough as Steinert’s boys lost to Hopewell, 2-1.

About The Author

Rich Fisher has been around the Hamilton Township sports scene for so long that he actually got Rich Giallella’s autograph when Giallella was still a player! Proud product of Hamilton YMCA and Lou Gehrig baseball leagues and former teammate of Jim Maher on a very average Barton & Cooney rec basketball team, Fish graduated from Nottingham Junior High and Steinert High school and has covered township sports since 1980. His goal in life is to convince Maria Prato that Jersey tomatoes are at least 100 times better than California tomatoes.