When she started talking about her Sayreville War Memorial High School girls’ soccer team on Aug. 27, coach Jillian McGarry was brutally honest.
The Bombers graduated 12 seniors in the spring, “so it’s definitely a rebuilding year,” McGarry said.
But then the seventh-year coach talked about her team for about 20 minutes, and she realized that she may have been underselling her Bombers.
Sayreville has one of the best players in New Jersey, six other returning starters and a couple promising freshmen in its projected lineup for 2019.
The graduations left question marks, to be sure, but the Bombers still have a chance to be really good this fall.
Sayreville will open its regular season with a home game on Sept. 5. Woodbridge High School will be the opponent for the game that will start at 6 p.m.
“We really do think we can do great things,” said McGarry, after discussing her team for about 20 minutes on Aug. 27. “The girls are confident, too.”
They should be, especially with senior forward Jacqueline Ventricelli leading the way. Ventricelli has scored 35 goals over the past two seasons and she made the All-New Jersey team both years. She is one of the best scorers and players in the Garden State.
“She’s our attack,” McGarry said.
Sayreville also has six other starters back from last year’s team, which was pretty good, finishing 7-7-1 and qualifying for the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament, though it lost in the first round.
The returning starter group includes two midfielders, Sam Szymanski and Sam Soto, a midfielder/forward, Olivia Siveriio, and three defenders, Vicki Gwizdz, Gabriella Cardoso and Carissa Colfer.
Siveriio, Szymanski and Soto combined for 11 goals and seven assists in 2018. Gwizdz, Cardoso and Colfer contributed to a defensive unit that registered five shutouts.
“We definitely do have talent,” McGarry said, about halfway through those 20 minutes on Aug. 27.
The talent doesn’t end there, either. McGarry was excited enough about two freshmen, goalkeeper Selma Ahmemulic and forward/midfielder Janai Negroni, to mention them when discussing key players. Ahmemulic already looks in sync with her veteran defenders in practices and scrimmages.
“The communication has been on point,” McGarry said.
“I’m excited to see how our defenders take on leadership on the field,” the coach added. “We have a new goalie and we need to make her feel confident.”
Sayreville looks good, maybe even really good. But McGarry’s initial statement still holds some weight. The Bombers do still have four new starters and a new group of bench players.
But the core group will cover for the new players, and give them plenty of time to develop over the course of the season. Ventricelli will also make everyone around her better. The senior is getting recruited by Division 2 colleges, but she wants Division 1 offers, so she will be extra motivated to rack up goals, assists and highlights in 2019.
“She’s extremely strong and trusting her teammates, even the freshmen,” McGarry said. “I’m really excited to see her play.”
“I’m excited for the season,” McGarry added. “We are getting better by leaps and bounds with every half in our scrimmages.”
“We are definitely getting it,” she continued.