WEST CALDWELL — A few weeks ago, when Caldwell High School girls lacrosse head coach Angela Giampino-Vasi said she was hoping her team would go undefeated through the month of April, it seemed to be a bit of a lofty goal, to say the least. But four games into the season, the girls are unbeaten and scoring at a very high rate.
Georgia Mergner has emerged as the team’s top scorer, amassing a ridiculous 20 goals and nine assists in four games, including 13 goals over the last two (prior to Wednesday’s match). If that wasn’t enough, Meredith Weber has six goals, Emily Banaszynski has 12 and Ijeoma Ikpe has nine assists. The Lady Chiefs are getting goals from all over the field, making them a very dangerous offensive team.
Defensively, as long as they can hold teams below 10 goals a game, Caldwell is going to rack up a bunch of wins. The Lady Chiefs’ next legitimate chance at a loss won’t come until April 22, when they go on the road and face unbeaten Montclair.
Gianna Genello has apparently been putting in some heavy off-season work. The sophomore shortstop is on another planet right now, getting 14 hits in her first 19 at-bats for a .737 batting average, nine runs and six RBI. She is basically a walking base-hit right now, and has been right in the middle of Caldwell’s three-game winning streak.
On Friday, they got their first win of the spring with a 10-7 result over Montclair. The next day, they crushed Roxbury, 13-6, and then beat West Orange on Monday, 8-3.
The Lady Chiefs began the season losing their first two games, to Nutley and Mt. St. Dominic by a total score of 17-6. Since then, the offense has exploded picking up 31 runs in the last three games. What has been most impressive about the last three contests is that the offense isn’t wasting anytime putting up runs, scoring 13 first inning runs during the streak.
Everyone has been hitting during this stretch, including Carleigh Trivino (six RBI), Rachel Curtiss (four RBI, five runs) and Gabby Roselle (.429 average, five runs).
It was a foregone conclusion that the girls were going to hit, the only question was about the pitching, and through the first five games, that question remains unanswered. Giving up 33 runs in five games puts a lot of pressure on the offense.
Boys Lacrosse (1-2)
Caldwell excelled in close games last year, but the Chiefs have not started the spring with the same momentum. After posting a 6-1 record in contests decided by two or fewer goals in 2012, Caldwell has started off 1-2 in those games this time around. After opening the season with a 5-4 home loss to Bernards, the Chiefs bounced back for an 8-6 win over Seton Hall Prep last Thursday, getting three goals from Ryan Slane, four assists from Michael Brennan and a pair from Billy Pierce.
But two days later, they lost to Millburn, 9-7, getting three goals and an assist from Pierce, and three assists and a goal from Slane. A brief look at the box score makes it seem as though Caldwell dominated the ball, taking 24 shots on net, compared to 15 by Millburn. Caldwell’s shots just didn’t find the back of the net.
Boys Tennis (1-2)
After enjoying success in the Super Essex Conference Liberty Division last year, the Caldwell boys may be in for a bit of a rough time as they moved up to the American.
Teams like Millburn, Livingston and Newark Academy are on a different level than other Essex County schools and one of those teams will likely win the division, while Caldwell’s end-of-the-season record may not be quite indicative of just how good the Chiefs are.
This was somewhat apparent in the opening week, where the boys dropped matches against Livingston and Millburn (both 5-0 losses), but got a 3-2 win against Roselle Park. Individual winners in that one included third singles Brian Knight, first doubles Daniel Proano and Harjot Sidhu and second doubles Kennan Flack and Eric Ma.