Sibello continues goalie legacy at Lyndhurst, signs D1 scholarship at LIU

Mackenzie Sibello knew about the recent tradition of quality goalkeepers to come from the town of Lyndhurst even before she suited up for her first game at Lyndhurst High School.

“I looked up to Izzy Castagnetti a lot and Mackeznie Gress,” said Sibello, a senior at Lyndhurst. “I thought they were really cool and I wanted to play college soccer too and continue the legacy of goalies in Lyndhurst.”

Earlier this month, Sibello formally continued that legacy of Lyndhurst keepers when she signed her national letter of intent to play Division 1 soccer at Long Island University.

She joins the ranks of Castagnetti, who played at Holy Cross, and Gress, who didn’t play high school soccer and is now a sophomore at Penn State.

“Before coming into high school she knew Izzy Castagnetti and she looked up to Izzy and wanted to be the next Izzy,” head coach Kimberly Hykey said. “Everyone wants to be their own person, but she was very much another Isabella. She was in her shadow, but she made her own mark.

“We’ve been blessed with our last two goalies with her and Izzy before her because they were both super mature soccer wise.”

Sibello verbally committed to play at LIU in July. The size of the university as well as the relationship with head coach Lucy Gillett, a former goalkeeper who played professionally in England were among Sibello’s top reasons for picking the school.

“I liked how it was a small school, it kinda reminded me of Lyndhurst,” Sibello said. “I really like the coaches and they also have the nutrition program that I want to do.

“(Coach Gillett) definitely was one of the main reasons I went there. I feel like goalie is a very mental position and I can tell that she would be able to understand where I would be coming from. I definitely think that playing under her I will learn a ton, especially because she has experience in net.”

A four-year starter, Sibello will graduate as Lyndhurst’s career leader in saves with 300. This past season, Sibello had four shutouts. For her career, she recorded 18 clean sheets for the Golden Bears, who qualified for the state tournament all four of her years in net.

“She has great reactions. She also has great feet. She’s probably got the best feet on the team so she’s able to become a field player and give you options from the back,” said Hykey. “Most colleges are building up from the back and if they’re playing a high line (on defense) they gotta be comfortable in knowing the goalie can cut off those long balls, those through balls and get to them and that you can pass it back to her. She has the ability for a team to play out from the back, to play a high line and be that sweeper/keeper. And she’s got those great reactions to make these ridiculous saves.”

Sibello is one of two Lyndhurst girls soccer seniors, who will play in college next season as  Julia Anthony has verbally committed to play at Division III Fairleigh Dickinson University – Madison.

Anthony, an undersized, yet strong midfielder, was a three-year starter for the Golden Bears. She finished her career with 18 goals and 25 assists for Lyndhurst.

“Even though she’s not the tallest in stature, she’s strong in her body. Even if they are taller than her, she’s stronger than a lot of kids,” Hykey said. “The combination of her foot skills, her strength and her IQ kinda puts the lack of height to the side. She knows where to be, plays quickly, can use both feet, can control the ball with all parts of her body so well that the lack of size isn’t a huge, huge issue because she can beat you in so many other ways.”

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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 (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)