Lyndhurst girls have nothing to be ashamed of with loss in Bergen tourney

Kim Hykey is such a competitive person that she simply does not like to lose. That’s going back to her playing days at Lyndhurst High School and her career at Seton Hall University. Losing was not a word that Hykey liked to digest.

“I always want to win,” said Hykey, now the long-time girls’ soccer coach at her high school alma mater. “I never think we’re going to lose.”

Hykey was even taking the high road Sunday, when her Golden Bears were traveling north to Ramapo and face the No. 8 team in the state. Lyndhurst might have been a gigantic underdog, but Hykey was not putting on the face of a loser.

“We were going there to win the game,” Hykey said.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The powerful Green Raiders scored twice in the second half to come away with a 2-0 victory over the upstart Golden Bears.

“We held them scoreless until 13 minutes were left,” Hykey said. “(Goalkeeper Isabella) Izzy (Castagnetti) made two saves that were awesome saves that kept us in it. She made an amazing diving save that pushed the ball off the crossbar and another outstanding kick save. They really didn’t have many chances. We played a nice game of soccer. I’m really not overly disappointed.”

Nor is Hykey upset with the way her team has been playing. The loss to Ramapo dropped the Golden Bears’ record to 10-2 overall with the two losses coming at the hands of state-ranked teams Morris Catholic and Ramapo.

“If you would have told me in June that we’d have this record at this point, I definitely would have been surprised,” Hykey said. “But during the summer, I saw the talent that we had, especially with the freshmen coming in.”

One of the most promising freshmen has been midfielder Kaydee Yallo, who has scored eight goals and added five assists.

“Everyone knew she was good,” Hykey said of Yallo. “She has been playing club soccer with PDA (the prestigious Player Development Academy) since she was about eight years old. She’s a good student of the game. Her dad was a coach when she was younger and that helped a lot. She had a hat trick in her first varsity game, so that helped her confidence a lot.”

Yallo has fit in nicely with returning veterans Giulia Pezzolla and Mia Luna.

“I think the others are feeding off Kaydee and that also helps confidence,” Hykey said. “I think Kaydee has brought Giulia’s level up and she’s playing better. Giulia’s trying things she wouldn’t have tried last year. I don’t know if she did it consciously or it just happened, but Giulia is also now a better player.”

Pezzolla, now a junior, is off to another fine season, collecting eight goals and 11 assists.

The third top scorer is senior forward Luna, who has six goals and eight assists.

“Mia is a free spirit who doesn’t let anything bother her,” Hykey said. “Mia is just being Mia.”

Hykey had an idea that the three young ladies would play well together.

“In the summer league, they really started to jell together,” Hykey said. “They hadn’t played together before, but I’m excited to watch the three of them together now. If you stop one, you still have the other two to contend with. Hopefully, that continues.”

Castagnetti, the junior who has already committed to the College of Holy Cross when she graduates from Lyndhurst in June, 2019, has been sensational in goal.

Hykey has been getting great contributions from freshmen like Joelle Montillo, who scored two goals against New Milford last week, and Deirdre Kearns, who has tallied three goals.

“Deirdre is tough and brings tenacity,” Hykey said. “Joelle scored two goals against New Milford.”

Another key performer is junior defender Rachel Bocage, who was sensational in the loss to Ramapo. Gia Estrella, another fabulous freshman, has also been a major contributor.

“I’m very satisfied with their play,” Hykey said.

Hykey didn’t want to hear about any moral victories after the loss to Ramapo.

“I do believe though that this game will provide positive results down the road,” Hykey said.

After all, there’s still a league title to play for and the Golden Bears, at 7-0, have a one-game lead on Dwight-Englewood in the NJIC-Liberty Division standings. The two teams face each other Friday afternoon.

“When we played Morris Catholic, we didn’t stick to our style of play and that hurt us,” Hykey said. “We did stick to it against Ramapo and that’s the first big step in my mind. I do think this game will help us.”

Overall, at 10-2 and in control of the league, Hykey can’t ask for more.

“Yes, I’m definitely pleased with the way we’ve been playing and what we’ve been able to do,” Hykey said. “At 10-2, it’s a great record, for sure.”

Yes, that’s for sure.

Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer