It’s been a long time since the Harrison girls soccer program has enjoyed a weekend as successful as this past one.
Friday night, the Blue Tide rolled to a 6-0 victory against Ridgefield in an independent game. Then just 14 hours later, Harrison returned to its home turf for the start of the Hudson County Tournament, where the Blue Tide, seeded 10th, blew out 15th-seeded Dickinson by a 9-1 margin in the Play-In Round.
Saturday’s lopsided win marked Harrison’s first Hudson County Tournament win since 2016 when it went all the way to the semifinals.
As the calendar turns to October, Harrison is on a three-game winning streak, a stark and sudden turnaround for a program that hasn’t won three games in a season in seven years.
Third year head coach Ashley Jablonsky and her assistant coach, husband Bryan Jablonsky, remember the rough beginning to their tenure when only nine girls showed up to their first tryouts.
“Honestly, we’re shocked,” Ashley Jablonsky said about the Blue Tide’s 15-goal outburst this weekend. “Our confidence has obviously exploded and hopefully we can carry it on throughout the rest of the season.”
One the biggest reasons for Harrison’s turnaround resides up top with the arrival of junior Hailey Scocco. Scocco, who was two-year varsity player at Woodbridge before her family moved to Harrison last winter, has given the Blue Tide an offensive presence it sorely lacked, scoring five goals in Saturday’s HCT win.
Scocco has 10 goals during the current winning streak and 13 for the season.
“Any time that Hailey has the ball you can bet that it’s a good shot for her,” Bryan Jablonsky said. “She’s strong off the ball and anywhere that she’s got the ball on the field, the opponent needs to be ready for a shot to come.”
Flanking Scocco at the other two forward spots has been a true rotation with freshman Nada Bana (5 goals, 2 assists), senior Kyleigh Toal (2 goals, 1 assist) and sophomore Danna Gomez (1 goal, 3 assists) splitting time. Freshman Johanna Aguilar provides added depth up top.
Bana isn’t the only freshman making an instant impact as twin sisters Thalia Sosa and Romina Sosa both start in the midfield. Romina (1 goal, 3 assists) and Thalia (2 goals, 2 assists) combined for five points against Dickinson.
The veteran of the midfield is sophomore center defensive-mid Mya De Jesus
“Although Mya’s a sophomore, she really leads that whole unit,” said Bryan Jablonsky. “She’s taken on a leadership role, stepped up and we’re really proud of the leadership role that she’s stepped into along with her skill and experience.”
Freshmen Ariella Buestan and Scarlett Hernandez are also vying for time at midfield.
The defensive back is one area where Harrison does have experience where junior Rebecca Sardinha enters her third year at right back and is alongside senior Isabella Stephens.
Junior Estrella Lucero and sophomore Breaghan Toal also have varsity experience and round out the quartet.
“It’s a solid defense, a confident defense that gets done what we need to get done, especially in these last two games,” said Bryan Jablonsky.
Senior Milene Tapuy sees significant minutes on the backline as well, while senior Lollys Barrera and freshman Kassandra Rodriguez bring added depth.
Junior Victoria Solano is a returning starter at goalkeeper for Harrison. Senior Angela Sotil-Diaz, normally a field player, serves as the backup and saw extensive time between the posts earlier this season.
The suddenly red-hot Blue Tide hoped to continue its winning streak on Monday night when it hosted Lyndhurst. Harrison’s next Hudson County Tournament game is on Wednesday at seventh-seeded Union City.
“They’ve bought into the program in all phases – physically, mentally, emotionally – it’s a full package buy-in,” Bryan Jablonsky said. “They’re definitely aware of the direction the program is going and they definitely want to continue moving in that direction.”
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)