Steinert Girls Soccer Hannah Hart dribbles down the sideline against Robbinsville. Photo by Amanda Ruch.
By Rich Fisher
Oct. 10: Giana Pittaro uttered the numbers like they were giant anvils that just hung around the necks of every returning Steinert girls’ soccer player this season.
“Nineteen and three last year,” Pittaro said, “and absolutely nothing. No division title, no MCT championship. Nothing.”
What they couldn’t get with 19 wins last season, the Spartans got with 11 this year as their 4-1 victory over Robbinsville at Veterans Park tonight clinched the Colonial Valley Conference Patriot Division title. It was the eight straight victory for Steinert (11-1-1), which is unbeaten (9-0-1) in its last 10 games. The Spartans went 4-0 in Patriot play and prevented a possible three-way tie between themselves, the Ravens and Hopewell.
“We had a discussion last practice and before we came over here tonight,” said Mike “Stinger” Hastings, who got his first championship in four years as head coach. “We talked about how we had a chance to do something special tonight, something we didn’t do last year, cross a division title off the list. That’s a nice thing for them to kind of put their hat on.”
“We definitely deserve it,” said Casey Grehan, who had her second straight two-goal game on Albert Cowell Field. “We’ve been working so hard for so many years and we finally did it. This is just one small step to future success.”
That’s exactly what Pittaro is thinking.
“Hopefully this is one of some other titles we’re going to take home,” she said.
It all played out in a perfect setting under the lights on Senior Night, complete with life-size cutout figures of each of the 15 seniors. Seven of them made statistical contributions as goalies Erika Golik and Emily Inman combined for six saves, while Pittaro, Grehan, Ashley Navarro, Lynzie “Lou” Morgan and Kaylie Skillman each had at least one point.
That’s the way it’s been for Steinert all season – everybody chips in.
“We kind of pride ourselves upon that,” said Hastings. “It’s not just one girl, it’s tougher to defend when you have a lot of different girls that can finish. It’s coming from different angles. We don’t want to just play a set way, we want to spread the field out and get everybody involved.”
Steinert struck quickly against Robbinsville, which was playing with a back-up goalie due to Jamie Skarupsky’s injury. Pittaro set up Grehan for a goal on the right flank less than 13 minutes into play, and Pittaro re-directed a Morgan cross with 2:01 remaining in the half to make it 2-0.
Navarro slotted a feed from Grehan 6:18 into the second half, and Skillman earned free haircuts at the Upper Cut for everyone when she assisted Grehan for the Spartans final goal.
Grehan credited her teammates for her goals, but admitted that scoring two under the lights for a second time “is a great feeling, it really is.”
The only bummer of the night was Robbinsville scoring late in the game to snap Steinert’s shutout string at eight straight games. The last two goals the Spartans have allowed have come on Cowell Field, 10 games apart.
“We’ll bounce back from that,” Grehan said. “That isn’t something to be worried about.”
“Our defense has been playing really phenomenally,” Pittaro said. “They have all those shutouts to show for it. It stinks we gave up a goal but the defense didn’t even know we were on an eight-shutout streak. Everybody was like ‘Really?’”
Pittaro has been just as hot at the other end of the pitch in recent weeks, earning praise from Grehan and Hastings.
“Gianna is such a great teammate on and off the field,” Grehan said. “Just working with her, she has such skill. It just brings out the skill in me. We work so good together.”
“She’s really been the cog,” Hastings said. “She and Lou have been with me for four years and she’s involved in everything. She’s always involved in all our plays, she’s the leader of the team, the one that’s talking most on the field. Getting her hot at the right time is good for us.”
Steinert will be back at Cowell in two nights, as a Spartan-Hamilton West doubleheader starts at 5 p.m. with the boys’ game.
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Steinert’s JV girls also won, 3-1, on two goals from Crysten Wood and one from Margarita Ivanova. “We moved the ball really well had a great team effort,” said coach Chelsea Pitonyak.
Northstars’ boys and girls both have a winning day and a hat trick scorer
The Nottingham boys and girls’ teams were totally in synch, as each defeated Hightstown by 4-3 counts and each had a player score three goals.
The boys used a second-half goal to snap a 3-3 tie and end a five-game winless streak. Anthony Pacillo came up big with a hat trick while Hilario Lievano also scored. Matt Midura had two assists, Sa Phart picked up one and goalie Pat Luckie made seven sevens for the Stars (3-9-1).
“You should put Pat Luckie’s name in every story,” coach Mike “Bullet Head” Braender told Fish4scores recently. “Because he plays great in every game.”
The Northstar girls continued to build momentum with their third straight victory. Freshman sensation Gia Girman continued to deal, scoring three goals to up her season total to 11. Lauren Ahern also scored, while Ivonne Vasquez had two assists. Sara Haas (5 saves) and Madison Colabella (4) combined for nine saves as Nottingham improved to 7-5.
Hamilton West sides can’t get past WW-Plainsboro South
The Hornets came up empty against West Windsor-Plainsboro South as the boys lost 6-2 and the girls fell 4-0.
Richet Barchue and Adam Edders had goals for the boys (1-10), while Pedro Perez added an assist. Goalie Ahmed Taha had eight saves.
The girls (3-10) got 11 saves from Alyssa Firestine.
Steinert boys fall to Robbinsville
The Spartan boys dropped their eighth straight after suffering a 3-1 loss at Robbinsville. Steinert (4-9-1) got a goal from Sam Cohen and five saves from Tom Kozemchak.