By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
North Arlington High School has a new girls’ soccer coach in Dan Farinola, who had previously been the bowling and golf coach at the school.
Farinola takes over the girls’ soccer coaching duties at North Arlington, where he teaches. For the last few seasons, Farinola was the head boys’ soccer coach at Secaucus, his alma mater.
But Farinola bleeds NA blue and white these days and was excited to take over the reins of coaching the Vikings this fall.
“The transition has been really smooth,” said Farinola, who replaces veteran Sharon O’Brien Romer. “We graduated 12 seniors from last year, so we’re still trying to get our numbers up. But I’m excited about the girls we have coming back. When we’re completely whole, we are going to be competitive. It’s just hard right now getting the numbers. We might end up being a little thin on the bench. When school starts, we hope to get a few more girls.”
Farinola said that he’s still trying to implement a system for the Vikings to follow.
“We’re trying to do things a little differently, but I think offensively we can be a threat,” Farinola said. “We have some talented girls.”
Leading the way for the Vikings is junior midfielder Joanna Seca, who scored 12 goals and had 14 assists last year, as North Arlington won eight games.
“Joanna has complete control of the game,” Farinola said. “She’s a great player. She has all the tools to be a topnotch player.”
Senior Sarah Palma is another talented midfielder.
“She played more of a stopper role in the past, but we’ve moved her up to get involved with the offense,” Farinola said. “Her ball handling will help with control of the game.”
Sophomore Callie Evanchick is another solid player in the North Arlington midfield.
“She has a lot of potential,” Farinola said. “She played a lot last year as a freshman. I still think she is a little raw, but she has made a lot of improvement in such a short time.”
Freshman Carlie Mullins is another midfielder with talent and potential.
“She’s very good for her age,” Farinola said of Mullins. “She fits right in with the rest. She’s technically sound for a freshman.”
No question, the strength of the Vikings will lie within the midfield. Senior Taylor Barth is another key returnee. Barth scored 10 goals last year at forward.
“I think she can have a huge year this year,” Farinola said. “She has a nose for the ball and can put the ball on net. She has the ability to get good shots off.”
Freshman Kaitlin Stajek is another forward.
“She’s a product of the (North Arlington) Rec (recreation) program and is an aggressive player,” Farinola said. “She’s going to help us. She can get shots on goal as well and complements Taylor well.”
The Vikings will have to play strong defensively and Farinola is asking a lot of the young group.
Freshman Makayla Cortes has inherited the role as the starting goalkeeper.
“She’s adapting very well,” Farinola said. “She is stopping the ones in front of her. She has to keep improving because she’s never played goalkeeper before.”
Junior Jessica Gilmour is the team’s starting sweeper. Farinola is still working with Gilmour with learning the intricacies of playing the position.
“She’s settling in,” Farinola said.
Junior Kayleigh Lavornia is the team’s stopper. Lavornia is a first-year soccer player, so she is also learning the position.
“She’s a tough girl who is willing to learn,” Farinola said.
Sophomore Melissa Torres is another defender who spent some time in goal last year. Junior Sam Magliori will also play a key role as a defender.
The Vikings are clearly a work in progress along the backline. They will need to develop and learn in a hurry.
The Vikings open their season on Thursday against St. Mary’s of Rutherford, so they will know soon enough how they stack up against the opposition.
The Vikings will eventually get the chance to play on the newly refurbished Rip Collins facility. Some of those games, including an Oct. 23 game against Weehawken, will be played at night.
“The girls are really looking forward to those night games,” Farinola said. “It’s really exciting.”
Maybe the idea of playing night games on a brand new state-of-the-art facility will entice more girls to want to play soccer at North Arlington. One thing’s for sure: It can’t hurt.
“We’re hoping things like that will encourage more to play,” Farinola said. “We want to be able get the program going in the right direction.”
For now, players like Seca, Palma and Barth have to be the beacons, the guiding lights, to lead the Vikings to respectability right away. After that, it remains up to the girls of North Arlington to get involved in a sport that so many girls in the town already participate in.