Lyndhurst girls’ soccer: Consistency is the trait

LYNDHURST – There are some things that are a given this time of year. Football season is upon us. Labor Day approaches. School is back in session – even after a COVID scare.

And the Lyndhurst High School girls’ soccer team wins its fair share of matches.

In fact, the Golden Bears perennially win far more times than they lose, even last season, when the pandemic forced the Golden Bears to play a totally revamped and truncated schedule and still won 10 of 14 games.

The Golden Bears were 10-2-2 last season and advanced to the North Jersey Group II sectional title game against Ramsey.

Veteran head coach Kim Hykey welcomes back a solid group of talented players, poised to keep the winning tradition going.

“It’s definitely nice to know that we’re going to have a full schedule,” Hykey said. “It was nice to get the games in last year because of everything that was going on. But all is right now. I’m definitely looking forward to playing a full slate of independents. I think we all have some excitement and anticipation.”

The Golden Bears lost a lot of players to graduation, 11 in all.

“Of the 11 seniors we lost, seven were four-year varsity kids,” Hykey said. “That was a big, talented class and we’re going to try to fill those slots with what we have.”

Hykey knows that she doesn’t have a sure-fire 30-goal scorer on her roster.

“I think we’re kind of going to have a scoring-by-committee approach,” Hykey said. “We have a lot of depth and that’s probably one of our strengths.”

The Golden Bears’ depth begins in goal, where they have senior captain Claudia Lapinski and sophomore Mackenzie Sibello as goalkeepers. Both saw action last year. Lapinski learned to play goalkeeper when Isabella Castagnetti graduated and took her talents to the College of Holy Cross. Sibello grew up looking up to Castagnetti and has become a full-time soccer goalie, playing all year round.

“Claudia has grown a lot over the last three years,” Hykey said. “She’s done well in the preseason. Mackenzie has been looking forward to the season all summer long.”

Needless to say, it’s a good problem for Hykey to have.

The Golden Bears also have depth in their defensive alignment, so much that Hykey will utilize as many as five defenders on the field at the same time.

Kayla Carrino is a junior center back who has started since she arrived three years ago.

“She’s a solid player,” Hykey said. “She has such a knowledge of the game. I’m super excited to have her back.”

Sophomore Elise Ferschweiler is another center defender.

“She came off the bench last year and did a nice job when she was in there,” Hykey said.

Junior Kelani Gomez is another returning starter along the back line.

Sophomore Julia Tozduman, the younger sister of softball queen Ella, is a speedster at defensive wing. The younger Tozduman ran track last year as a freshman.

“She can get up and down the line,” Hykey said of Tozduman. “She can move.”

Senior Emma Rodrigues and sophomores Ardsly Almonte and Manya Gowda round out the corps of defenders.

Senior Aliya Keith is one of the team’s center midfielders, along with senior captain Francesca Castagnetti, the younger sister of Isabella and the daughter of assistant football coach Joe.

“Francesca has made a big step from last year to this year,” Hykey said. “She’s now a senior and a captain. She’s also verbalizing her thoughts. She’s always saying something that I was going to say. It’s like having another coach on the field.”

Sophomore Julia Anthony is also among the Golden Bear midfielders.

“She’s probably our best technical player,” Hykey said of Anthony. “She might just end up with more assists than goals.”

Freshman Kyla Marino is also in the mix at midfield.

The Golden Bears have a lot of talent and depth along the forward line, so much so that they will play a lot of sets with three forwards.

Junior Lexi Augustyniak returns after a solid sophomore year. Junior Madison Weaver, the daughter of wrestling coach Scot and sister to wrestling standouts Dylan and Damian, is a fine forward for the Golden Bears.

“She’s super tough on the ball,” Hykey said of Weaver. “She’s slick and aggressive. She gets by defenders when there’s little room to move.”

Junior Amanda Dasler rounds out the key forward line.

“For the first time in a while, we’re going with three forwards,” Hykey said. “We have a solid group of forwards. I’m confident that they can all score and go to goal. I think we have good balance offensively.”

The Golden Bears also have senior Genesis Cedeno at forward, along with freshman Skyler Montillo and sophomore Gabby Auteri.

Having such depth is not a major problem at all, especially for a Group II program with state title hopes and dreams.

“I think we have the makings of a good team,” Hykey said. “Some people might question if we’re going to have a good team, but I think we’re going to be equally as good, just getting our scoring in different ways.”

It all adds up to one thing: Lyndhurst’s girls’ soccer team will win again in 2021, like they always do.

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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.”