The Monroe United 02 girls’ soccer players have been playing together for years.
And in 2019, the 16- and 17-year old players enjoyed their best season yet.
Playing in New Jersey Youth Soccer’s 17U division, Monroe United 02 finished with a sterling record of 23-2-2.
The club was dominant throughout the spring. But on June 2 at the Manalapan Recreation Center, the Monroe Township squad earned its crowning achievement of the season.
In the NJYS’ Commissioner’s Cup championship game for the 17U division, Monroe United beat Global Premier Soccer New Jersey, 2-0.
The victory capped a three game tournament run in which Monroe outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 7-2. Monroe topped the Manalapan Soccer Club, 3-2, in the semifinal round and Deptford Premier, 2-0, in the quarterfinal round.
“This accomplishment meant that we deserve to be number one,” said Brielle Walto, a center midfielder for Monroe.
“When we had a game we didn’t worry about how good the team was,” added Olivia Hutt, another center midfielder. “We just played one game at a time!”
Monroe’s scintillating run through the tournament started in the back. The United surrendered less than a goal per game in Commissioner’s Cup play.
Goalkeeper Kirsten Nelson is a 6-0 tall athletic dynamo. Monroe coach Ed Walto estimated that she gave up seven goals all spring–27 games.
“She’s a stud,” he said.
But Nelson could not have done it alone. Her foursome of backs, Samantha Hurban and Gianna Johnson in the center and Hailey Hartwyk and Kayton Mirzejewski outside, have been playing together longer than any other unit on Walto’s roster. They have an instinctive feel for each other, and for how to play opponents.
“They defend as a unit,” Ed Walto said.
They transition the ball up to the midfield, too.
“They can see the entire field,” Ed Walto said. “And they guide people on where they should be and what they should look for.”
Monroe’s center midfielders are just like the club’s defenders. They have been playing together for awhile and have an intuitive feel for each other.
Ed Walto said Hutt, Brielle Walto, Alyssa Whittaker and Elizabeth Tynan, the center midfielders, are the best two way players on Monroe’s roster.
“They are the grunt workers that do the hard work and let the strikers finish all the hard work,” Ed Walto said.
Monroe is a prolific offensive team as well. It averaged just over two goals per contest during the Commissioner’s Cup. Attackers Ciara Minkel, Natalie Lunt and Sarah Mento finished with most of those goals.
All three players mix speed, athleticism and type A personalities up top.
“They all have a good first touch and an aggressive nature,” Ed Walto said.
The Monroe United 02 squad also consisted of back Danielle Laux, back Gianna Darcangelo, striker Emma Amilcare, striker Marissa Forant and midfielder Megan Tweed.
All the players contributed to a quintessential team effort.
Since they were all born in 2002 and 2003, they are all still only juniors and sophomores in high school, meaning the United will be back, in their present form, for one more spring next year.
“They set the bar high this year,” Ed Walto said. “Topping that will be hard.”
“We are all trying to make the most of next year,” Hutt added. “Some girls only have a year left on this team.”