CALDWELL - The Mount St. Dominic Academy soccer team had a successful season last year and hopes to continue that success despite losing 10 seniors to graduation.
The Lions (1-0) opened the season with a 2-0 victory over Summit on Thursday, Oct. 1.
“We got off to a good start for the season,” said Angelo Del Vecchio, who began his fourth year as head coach. “We scored two goals in the second half, one by Gianna Mangili and one by Clare Mulvihill. Sophie Garske had a nice game in net.”
The Lions had a record of 12-6-1 a year ago. In the NJSIAA Non-Public A state tournament, they were seeded fourth and fell to top-seeded and state-ranked Immaculate Heart Academy in the semifinals.
They also were seeded fourth in the Essex County Tournament and lost to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Montclair in the semifinal round. They finished fourth in the American Division of the Super Essex Conference.
“We had many highlights throughout the year,” Del Vecchio said. “Exciting wins over Montclair Kimberly (2-1 in overtime), Glen Ridge (1-0), Newark Academy (shootout in the county quarterfinals) and a win over a tough Oak Knoll team (2-1) in the Non-Public A Group quarterfinals.
"We even played well in games that we lost. For example, we lost to Montclair, who were ranked No. 2 in the state and became the eventual winner of the county, 2-1 in overtime and 3-1 in the county semifinals. We also suffered a 1-0 loss to a very good IHA team in the state sectional semifinals. We played very well against these skillful opponents.
"As a team, we only gave up 15 goals the entire season while playing a very competitive schedule.”
Del Vecchio said a core group of players is returning this year.
“Losing 10 seniors, all of whom played major minutes, is tough on any team,” he said. “We are young and inexperienced during a season with a shortened preseason and less time to learn. However, our athletes have responded well. I have seen a gradual improvement since Sept. 14 when we started.
“Brynn Caufield, a senior, is anchoring our defense. Brynn is a four-year varsity player. Clare Mulvihill, another four-year varsity player, is a center midfielder and has played well for us. Sophie Garske, our senior goaltender, had a very good season last year and continues to improve this season. Gianna Mangili, a junior forward, should be one of our leading scorers. Maria Hoelevas is a sophomore center midfielder. She had a better-than-expected season last year and continues to improve. We expect her to make a greater contribution this year.”
He said the shortened season because of the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging.
“It has been tough on all teams this season. Our team has responded very well. The players are grateful that they are able to play during such an unusual and difficult time.”
The team’s goal for the season is to continue to improve, he said.
“We are a young team, and our goal is to get better each and every day. I am already witnessing it, and I’m happy with the improvement we are making. I want to be playing our best soccer by the end of the season.”
The Lions were set to take on Millburn on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Next on the schedule is Newark Academy on Friday, Oct. 9; James Caldwell on Monday, Oct. 12; and Livingston on Wednesday, Oct. 14.