WW-P’s fall sports season is now underway, with most teams at both high schools opening their seasons this week. The North and South football teams will both kick off on Saturday, September 11, at 1 p.m. North will host Trenton. South will play at Rancocas Valley.
High School North Football. Under head coach Chris Casamento, North has been rebuilding its program over the last two seasons and looks to be a strong contender in Casamento’s third year.
When Casamento took over in 2008, the team went 2-8, but improved to 6-4 in the 2009 season, making it to the NJSIAA playoffs for the second time in North’s history.
While the team lost 15 seniors, including Sean Reed, who finished with 1,231 yards and nine touchdowns last year, the team has many returning players, including senior quarterback Joe Jensen.
In total, the team is returning 18 letter winners. Taking over in the backfield for the spot left by Reed are Jaymar Anderson, Chris Banks, Tyrone Parker, Walter Dunston, and Greg Weisbecker.
On the defensive side, the Knights will also return Juwan Lee, who had eight interceptions last year — the most in the Colonial Valley Conference — and will be helped by Dunston, a senior safety/weak-side linebacker. Weisbecker, as well as seniors Vince Dicindio and Sam Korsen, return to the defense.
High School South Football. Following a .500 effort (5-5) last season and a loss to East Brunswick in the first round of the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs, the Pirates are hoping to bank on a small class of seniors and many newcomers to lead the team to its sixth straight playoff appearance.
South’s senior class only has eight players, but each brings his own strength to the team. Senior Bijan Matthews returns as a healthy and strong player, after having his role limited last year when he tore ligaments in his elbow in the opening game.
Matthews, a linebacker and fullback, and senior Etienne Aduya, a lineman and defensive end, will be a force for the defense this year. Aduya had 65 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and a safety last season.
South’s offense, however, is heading into the season without junior starting quarterback Chris Evans, who injured his elbow on the first day of training camp and is expected to be out for the first four weeks of the season. Bryan Rivers will start as the Pirates’ quarterback in Evans’ absence.
Senior Brian Saravia will lead the running game, while the team will have depth and experience in receivers Alex Rohrbach, Connor McElwee, Chris Skolka, Marty Flatley, and Joe Cirafici.
North Boys’ Soccer. The Knights enter this season with high hopes, as they return senior Kevin Nowak, who scored 20 goals for the team last fall and is the CVC’s top returning scorer.
Even though North will have to fill the hole left by Nassir Silwany, who was a two-time All-CVC sweeper who graduated in June, the team hopes to build on its 12-7-1 overall record last year. Last season the team fell to Freehold Borough, 1-0, in the Group III Central semifinals, ending its two-year reign as sectional champs.
Along with Nowak, the Knights will also return seniors Bryan Lentine, Rochee Bell, James Mulhall, C. J. Richardson, Andrew Stark, Spencer Palombit, Sam Goldfinger, Shehryar Shah, Josh Weitz, Isaac Whelan, Dan Steinberg, and Michael Choo to add great depth to the team.
The roster also includes juniors A. J. Carnevale, Lee Rabin, Ryan Siegler, Jason Foster, and Alex James.
South Boys’ Soccer. The biggest challenge for the Pirates as they head into the new season is doing so without 28-year coach Brian Welsh, whose sudden death on August 29 transfered interim coaching duties to Bryan Fisher.
Despite the tragic start to the season, the Pirates return a plethora of talented players, including senior midfielder Zach Rosenberg, who finished last season with 16 goals, as well as senior fullback Sota Koike and senior midfielder Sean Hazen.
Last year’s Colonial Division champions finished with a 17-4-1 record and made it to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV sectional quarterfinals, where they fell to North Brunswick, 3-2.
In addition to Rosenberg, Koike, and Hazen, the team also returns seniors Nick Young, Andrew Ochoa, Peter Cerrito, Brian Oglesby, Kevin Enriquez, Dharan Kadiyala, Esvin Monrroy, Thomas Peters, and Jake Schwartz. Also returning are juniors Graham Harter, Chris Campbell, Christian Castro, Troy Fernandez, and Garrett Vene; and sophomores Jordan Brand, Christian Clancy, and Kevin Mannion.
Fisher said the team’s goals are simple: “We’re going to work as hard as we can,” he said. “We know that there’s going to be adversity along the way, emotionally and physically. We’re going to do our best to get through each day together. We have to stay together and lean on each other.”
North Girls’ Soccer. Last year, the Knights made it to the second round of the Central Jersey III state playoffs before being eliminated by Wall. While the team finished with a record of 9-9-1, a majority of its losses were by just one goal.
This year’s team is led by captains Jenna Carlen, a defender, and midfielder Megan Chismar. Seniors Stephanie Parrott, Olivia Haase, and Caroline Sievers, as well as juniors Jen Ibanez, Alexa Kogan, Marisa Edwards, Christine Niciforo, Emma Eccleston, and Brianna King add depth to the team. Sophomores Stefanie Witsotsky and Sarah Hayduchok will also have a big impact this year.
Veterans King and Witsotsky will share goalkeeping duties, and both have already proved to be comfortable in front of the net.
South Girls’ Soccer. Following a 6-4-3 showing last season, South also returns a number of key players, including 11 seniors: Erika Deetjan, Victoria Matthews, Michelle Morris, Kat Philbin, Sarah Solomon, Caroline Ziedonis, Molly Johnson, Sarah Peck, Juliet Brooks, Becca Musumeci, and Christina McGuigan.
The roster is rounded out by other experienced players, including juniors Heather Deamond, Jane Calder, and Erica Borsack; sophomores Brittain Dearden, Joanna Gochucio, and Kayla Morrissey; and freshman Melinda Altamore.
Morris and Matthews combined for 10 goals last season and are looking to build on those numbers for their senior year, while Dearden returns from her breakout freshman season last fall.
North Field Hockey. Coming off a 17-5 record, last year’s Colonial Division champions will be at the top of their game this year, especially after returning a very talented senior class.
Among the returners are seniors Kelly Girandola, Lauren Hurlburt, Heather Bilardo, Kristin Troianello, Kristen Carpio, Hope Preville, Katie Nixon, Giselle Toralba, Simran Chhabra, Amanda Schnurr, and Maddie and Caitie Antaya. Juniors Devin Brakel, Erin Bonafede, Sarah Bush, and Chloe Spetalnick as well as sophomores Kayla Foster and Jeanine Lennon.
Brakel is poised to have another great year after finishing with 30 goals last season, and combined with the abilities of Carpio, Bilardo, Troianello, Maddie Antaya, and Girandola, the Knights should be a scoring power. Carpio finished with 26 points last season, while Bilardo had 11.
South Field Hockey. Despite going 3-12 last season, the Pirates return a lineup of veterans and welcome new talent to the roster this year.
Coach Christina Cabarle is in her third year with the team, which returns seniors Kelly Benfer, Ashley Cruz, Carolina Echeverri, Angela Huang, Sharell Lowe, Laura McCormick, and Jill Zummo.
The team also returns juniors Isabel Farfan, Laura Bortnick, Allison Frullo, Shannon MacKay, and Stacey Jou. Rounding out the roster are sophomores Alison Aimers, Lexi Bruno, Ashley Hasling, Emily Kramer, Yun-Ah Park, Cassie Perez, and freshman Rachel Salerno.
The Pirates should overcome their close losses last season when nine losses came by one goal.
North Tennis. Coming off a 14-5 season, the Knights reached the Central Jersey Group III finals last year, falling to Holmdel in the championship round. This year the team will return sophomore Danika Baskar at first singles. Junior Harinee Suthakar and senior Melissa Traub, also veterans, will fill the spots at second and third singles.
The doubles positions are still up for grabs, but the team will add newcomer Anuksha Mathur, who transferred to North from Texas, to its depth. Aneesha Raghunathan, Connie Wang, Claudia Lynn, Sheena Desai, Felicity Smith, Caroline Arriojas, Barbara Zhan, and Jessica Mao are also on the roster this year for the Knights.
South Tennis. Coming off a 15-1 season and a close loss to Westfield in the state final, 3-2, the team is aiming to win the Group IV title this year. Last season the team claimed the Mercer County Tournament title behind Lesley Norris at third singles and first and second doubles teams of Sahana Jayaraman and Larissa Lee Lum and Amanda Stanton and Mallory Wang last season.
The team went on to claim the Group IV title and reached the Group IV final, where it fell to Westfield. Jayaraman and Lee Lum also won the state doubles title, after defeating Millburn in the quarterfinals, Moorestown in the semifinals, and Haddonfield in the finals. It was the first time a South doubles team was in the finals.
Despite losing Lesley Norris and Amanda Stanton to graduation, the Pirates return a roster of veterans: Ammu Mandalap at first singles, with Belinda Ji and Sahana Jayaraman also returning to the singles roster behind her. Jayaraman has moved from doubles to singles after having won the state doubles championship with Larissa Lee Lum last year. Lee Lum, as well as Wang and Nicole Joseph, also return to the Pirates. Catherine Wong, Teresa Akkara, and Nikila Venkat are also key players.
Cross Country. Renowned twin sensations Jim and Joe Rosa are back for their senior year at North’s cross country program and are looking to build on their already-decorated careers this fall.
Joe and Jim Rosa finished first and second, respectively, at the Meet of Champions last season. Jim also placed second at the Nike Northeast Regional last season and later won the 1,600 meters at the Meet of Champiopns in June. Meanwhile, Joe set the Holmdel Park record twice last year, and recorded a second-straight win at the Nike Northeast Regional. He was third at the Nike National Championships.
However, the team graduated its other top runners last year, including Jon Squeri, so other runners will have to step up. The team has depth and anticipates contributions from seniors Casey Dalrymple and Patrick O’Connell as well as junior Danny Lee and sophomore Eddie Cunningham.
At South, the Pirates return Brian Schoepfer, who placed 15th at the Meet of Champions last season in a time of 16:04.5 and will lead the team. The team will be challenged by the loss of three of its top seven runners. Returning are senior Doug Wallack, juniors Dan Sheldon, Kartik Chandrasekaran, Prathik Chandrasekaran, Markan Patel, Alex Maeda, and sophomores Dan and Jake Riff.
Meanwhile, the girls’ cross country team at North will take a hit after losing Emily Scott to graduation last year. At South, Caroline Kellner returns for her junior year and should be a force for the Pirates.