By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The Kearny High School girls’ soccer team is just one win away from an amazing sixth straight Hudson County Tournament championship.
The Kardinals advanced to the title game with a resounding 11-0 win over Hoboken in the county tourney semifinals Sunday at Caven Point Cochrane Stadium in Jersey City.
The Kards will now face Memorial in the tourney title game this Sunday at a site to be determined, quite possibly the same location.
The Kardinals received yet another stellar performance from senior forward Barbara Paiva, who is well on the way to re-writing the school’s record books.
Paiva tallied an incredible five goals in the win over Hoboken, giving her 33 on the season, tying the school mark set by Stefanie Gomes (now at Montclair State) a few years ago.
Lily Durning added two goals while senior midfielder Amanda Eustice had a goal and three assists. It was a complete domination, as the Kardinals continue to roll.
“Hoboken had a nice game against North Bergen to get to the semifinals, but they lost a lot of girls to injury,” said Kearny head coach Vin Almeida. “So they were a little light handed to face us. It was a tough situation for us to play them in the semifinals, but in way, it was fortunate, because we were able to get a lot of girls on the field.”
Almeida said that he was impressed with Paiva’s performance.
“She’s really on a roll right now,” Almeida said. “She scored some nice goals. She’s a solid finisher. She’s really heating up at the right time.”
Almeida said that he was also impressed with the play of Eustice, who missed all of last season due to knee surgery.
“She’s getting the ball to our scorers, serving the ball to where the girl can finish,” Almeida said. “It makes things a lot easier. She’s been doing that a lot lately. She’s playing in a spot where she never played before (defensive center midfielder) and she’s handling it well. She’s doing a lot of the dirty work that goes unseen. But that leads to our success.”
Needless to say, Almeida was pleased with the incredible performance.
“It’s a great feeling to be in the finals and hopefully, we can win another county championship,” Almeida said. “That was the goal coming in.”
The Kards will now face Memorial, a team that they have defeated twice already this season by 3-1 and 4-0 margins. Almeida knows the old adage that it is very difficult to beat the same time three times in a season.
“Memorial will certainly not be a pushover,” Almeida said. “We have to be sharp to beat them. We can’t let our opponent get one up on us. We have had some good tests against them.”
Memorial features standout forward Mayensy Vargas, who has 31 goals this season, so the county final will pit two of the state’s leading scorers in Paiva and Vargas.
“We shall see,” Almeida said. “It’s two of the top goal scorers playing against each other. It should be very exciting.”
Almeida knows that history is hanging in the balance. There aren’t many soccer programs in New Jersey that can lay claim to six county championships in a row.
“We just have to keep our composure,” Almeida said. “We have to come out and play our game. We just have to stay focused. We’re feeling pretty good. We’re confident, but cautious.”
Perhaps history is in the making on Sunday.