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North Brunswick boys’ soccer team returning a slew of talent

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North Brunswick boys’ soccer team returning a slew of talent

North Brunswick Township High School’s soccer team huddles before the start of the second half of an away game against Sayreville War Memorial High School on Sept 4. The North Brunswick Raiders completed a 6-0 win.

North Brunswick Township High School experienced a solid a boys’ soccer season in 2018, going 11-9 and qualifying for the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament.

The Raiders fell in the state tournament’s first round to East Brunswick High School, 1-0.

With key players back at every level of the field, North Brunswick should be good again in 2019. Perhaps even better.

North Brunswick will open its regular season on Sept. 5 at home against Colonia High School. Opening tap is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“I think we’ll be very competitive,” said North Brunswick coach Paul Liddy. “It’s just a matter of getting off to a good start and getting some confidence.”

The Raiders have seven starters back for 2019, and they are a balanced group. There is a goalkeeper in rising junior Santiago Andino. There are also two defenders, rising senior Justin Fisher and rising sophomore Kenny Aguilar, two center midfielders, rising seniors Hendrix Lekics and Chris Lopez, and two forwards, rising senior Alusine Kamara and rising junior Sebastian Salazar.

It’s nearly a whole lineup, and all seven players succeeded in 2018.

Andino split time in goal with graduated senior Ali Karim, and made the same amount of saves, 58, as Karim. He also shut out East Brunswick in the second half of the state sectional playoff game.

“He was solid throughout his first year on varsity,” Liddy said. “Santiago has good hands, reads the game well and is a good communicator.”

Fisher, at center back, and Aguilar, at right back, helped anchor the back four a year ago. Both are fast, versatile and good at distributing the ball up field.

Liddy may even count on Aguilar in the midfield. But if he doesn’t, then Aguilar will help Fisher lead the back line.

“Kenny may slide into the midfield, so we’re really counting on Justin in the back,” the coach said.

Lekics and Lopez might be Liddy’s fittest and strongest players, which explains why they are center midfielders. North Brunswick’s coach wants his players to push the pace more this fall, and Lekics and Lopez will be central to that effort.

Lekics can really dribble and Lopez can really distribute. They just need to prove that they can finish scoring plays in a more attacking style.

“That’s what we have to figure out,” Liddy said.

But finishing will be more the domain of Kamara and Salazar, a couple speedy forwards who combined for 19 goals last fall. Kamara led the Raiders with 13 goals and Salazar was second on the team with six. Salazar also led the club with five assists.

So North Brunswick is returning its two best scorers, who are already used to playing together. Liddy thinks they can combine for 30 goals this year, with Kamara hitting 20 and Salazar reaching 10. That would make them one of the most dynamic scoring tandems in central New Jersey, and it would probably make the Raiders one of the area’s best teams.

North Brunswick is entering the season with few holes, if any. It is just a matter of how much its returning starters improve over the course of the fall.

“I’m not sure what our record will be, but we want to just improve every game,” Liddy said.

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