NA’s Lady Vikings look to rebound after sluggish start

The North Arlington High School girls’ soccer team got off to an unconventional slow start, posting a 2-5 record after seven matches.

“I think we got a couple of bad breaks,” said veteran NA head coach Dan Farinola. “We’re scoring. It’s just a matter of holding the opponent.”

The Lady Vikings faced tough opponents like Bayonne and St. Dominic Academy of Jersey City, only to fall to both foes by a single goal. The Lady Vikings lost 5-4 to Bayonne and 4-3 to SDA.

So Farinola decided to change his rotation around a little to stimulate some defense.

“We tried to make adjustments to our game plan,” Farinola said. “We are trying to have better ball possession, better defense in the midfield. We’re trying different things to see what might work for us. We want to be a winning team.”
Needless to say, the slow start has waned on Farinola and the Lady Vikings a little.

“It’s a little frustrating,” Farinola said. “We just haven’t played up to our potential yet. I think we’re capable of a little more. I think we’re making progress now.”
Senior Emily Cordova is the team’s goalkeeper now. She was the team’s sweeper until a week ago.

“She provides a lot of leadership,” Farinola said. “As a goalie, she positions herself well and she’s tough back there. She was in goal for us last year. I think she was ready for the switch. She’s the ultimate team player. She takes on any challenge that we give her.”

The team’s new sweeper is junior Samantha Baulo.

“She was an outside back that we moved to the middle,” Farinola said. “She has been playing very well. She’s embracing the role we’ve given her. She’s talking more with her teammates and taking charge back there.”
Senior Melissa Montesinos is the team’s stopper. Montesinos has been a three-year starter in the NA defense. Juniors Maddy Amador and Rayna Taormina are the other defenders.

“The unit we’ve been using over the last three games seems to be working,” Farinola said. “We’re giving up fewer goals.”

The center midfielder is senior Samantha DiPopolo, who has been a four-year starter for the Lady Vikings.

“She does a good job of making good decisions,” Farinola said. “She distributes the ball well and makes good long passes.”
DiPopolo has scored four goals and collected six assists thus far.

The other midfielders are all sophomores in Laura Guglielmelli, Hailey Rolon, Jordyn Nelson and Melanie Jurado. Nelson comes from a litany of great former North Arlington athletes, like her aunt, the former Kim Nelson and her uncle Anthony Marck, who are married.

“She comes from NA royalty,” Farinola said of Nelson, who has six goals and two assists.

Rolon plays more of a defensive midfielder role. Guglielmelli has scored three goals in the early stages of the season.

There is a lot of firepower in the North Arlington front line, led by senior Savannah Smith, who just recently became the school’s all-time leader in goals scored. Smith has now totaled an amazing 83 times during her career, including 13 scores this season.

“Savannah is doing her thing,” Farinola said of his leading scorer. “Everyone tries to mark her, sometimes with two or three players. She has been handling that well.”

Smith has cemented her place in North Arlington folklore. There will be a day when Smith earns her proper place in the North Arlington Hall of Fame.

Senior Gabriela Marques is another forward. Marques has found the net five times this season, so that’s definitely a lot of weaponry in the Lady Vikings’ front line.

Junior Natalia Auriemma is a reserve midfielder and sophomore Alexandra Gomes is a versatile player, seeing time at both defender and in the midfield.

The Lady Vikings have a good road ahead of them this week, facing Hudson Catholic Wednesday, then Paterson Charter on Friday and finally the opening round of the NJIC Tournament against an opponent yet to be determined on Saturday.

“I think we’re better than our record indicates,” Farinola said. “I hope that we’re able to straighten things out a little.”




The North Arlington girls’ soccer team is trying to recover from a tough 2-5 start. From left are Emily Cordova, Samantha Baulo, head coach Dan Farinola, Maddy Amador, Jocelyn Garcia (no longer with the team), Rayna Taormina and Melissa Montesinos. Photo by Jim Hague



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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.”