Harrison’s Silva goes through goal-scoring explosion

The 2015 high school soccer season ended in an instant for Marta Silva.

The Harrison High School standout ran into an errant hand during a game, suffering a broken nose.

“I had the ball and the next thing I know, I got punched in the face and there was blood everywhere,” said Silva, now a junior. “It was extremely frustrating and upsetting. I was crying just about every day. It was terrible.”

Silva ended the 2015 season with just six goals, not coming close to the total of 17 she tallied as a freshman.

Needless to say, it was a lost year for both Silva and the Blue Tide.

“I knew I had to come back strong this year and make up for last season,” Silva said.

She had no idea she would make up for her entire lost season in just one week.

“All I thought about was scoring and winning,” Silva said.

Silva did both last week, scoring eight goals in one game and then six the next. That’s no misprint. Silva tallied a total of 14 goals in two games, a totally ungodly total. No other Harrison soccer player _ boy or girl _ ever scored goals at such a clip before.

“My teammates helped me to achieve it,” Silva said. “But I wanted more. As a goal scorer, you always want more.”

Harrison girls’ head soccer coach Raphael Viana never saw anything like it.

“She’s a game changer, for sure,” Viana said. “She has been playing since she was a young girl. The only sport she plays is soccer. She’s a soccer player, through and through. I can’t describe it. I’ve never seen anyone go off like that on any level.”

Viana said that in the game she scored eight, she had five in a span of 20 minutes.

“She was making strikes and putting them in the back of the net,” Viana said. “It didn’t matter where she was on the field. She was putting them in. She just stood over the ball and said, ‘This is it. It’s going in.’ She got the result she wanted.”

Needless to say, for her goal scoring explosion, Silva has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

As incredible as it sounds, Viana said that Silva could have indeed tallied more goals if it weren’t for her unselfish play. For example, she had seven assists in the game where she scored six goals.

“I took her out eight minutes into the second half of the first game when she had eight,” Viana said. “I mean, she scored seven goals in 25 minutes. She scored the eighth and I took her out.”

Silva said that she never heard of anyone scoring such a lofty total before.

“But now I have,” Silva said. “I didn’t know before. It’s been a while and it’s still amazing to me. It was great to have happen.”

Silva now has 21 goals for the season, so she surpassed the total she scored as a freshman. The 21 goals puts her in a tie for seventh in the entire state. Remarkably, Zoe Steck of Nutley, who was named Observer Athlete of the Week earlier this season, is right in front of Silva with 23.

But you can be rest assured that this confident young woman isn’t stopping at just 21 goals.

“It was my goal to beat my record from my freshman year,” Silva said. “Now I want more.”

Who’s to doubt her? She also has nine assists for the season.
“It was nice to be a part of as a coach,” said Viana, who was a standout goalkeeper on two of Harrison’s state championship squads in the 2000s. “Watching someone score at will like that. But she would trade all of her goals for a win. That’s the kind of player she is.”

Viana knows that Silva has to be able to score goals against the upper echelon teams before she can be considered a truly elite striker.

“That’s how you’re measured by,” Viana said. “You have to score against the top teams.”

Silva had an assist on the goal Saturday that enabled the Blue Tide to get past McNair Academic, 1-0, in the opening round of the Hudson County Tournament.

“Marta could have gone anywhere to play,” Viana said. “She also could play anywhere on the field. If I only had three more girls to play like her, we’d be way more dangerous.”

The Blue Tide, now 4-5 on the season, faces North Bergen in the quarterfinal round of the county tournament Wednesday.

Viana likes Silva’s personality.

“She’s quiet most of the time,” Viana said. “That is, until you get to know her. But she’s very mild mannered. She has a chip on her shoulder and plays with that chip. But that just means she wants to win bad. When she’s up, she gets the entire team up.”

Although she’s only a junior, Silva is already thinking about college and playing soccer.

“That’s the goal, to play in college,” Silva said. “I think I can. This week can only help me confidence-wise. It will also help to get my name out there a little.”

Silva plays club soccer during the offseason for the Thistle Challengers. That will also help her get noticed.

In the meantime, Silva just has to keep doing what she does best _ finding the net. And protecting that nose.

“I never thought I’d get eight goals in a game,” Silva said. “Maybe three or four, but definitely not eight. I’m glad I have that record and I hopefully can keep it forever.”

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”