BY TIM MORRIS
It’s how his team is playing later this month, when a trip to the national junior college championships is at stakes, that counts.
Rather than have his Jersey Blues (6-5) beat up on cream puffs early in the season and build up a nice won-lost record, he took his club to California, where it played against Division I and II powerhouses there (BCC is Division III). The result was a 1-4 record to start the 2004 season.
“That and we had some injuries,” he added. “We’re just now to the point where everyone is playing. We are starting to play well.”
The evidence is in the record. After that 1-5 start, the Blues rolled up five straight wins and are 6-1 in games that count within the Garden State Athletic Conference and Region XIX.
Saturday, the Blues stepped up in competition, once more taking on nationally ranked Division I power Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI). CCRI ended BCC’s five-game winning streak, but not before the Blues showed why they will be a team to be reckoned with come tournament time with a 2-1 loss.
“I’m not looking to build a record,” noted Lawrence of his reason for scheduling a team like CCRI. “I want to get the kids ready for the tournament. It’s how we do at the end of the year. We’ll be one of the teams everyone is looking at.”
BCC has a lot going for it as it looks to make a serious run at the NJCAA tournament in November.
“The goalie is there, our defense is healthy and playing together and now, our offense is playing together,” said Lawrence. “We’re starting to put the ball in the back of the net. Even against the really tough opponents we were getting our opportunities. Now, we’re taking advantage of them.”
Lauren Nangano (Marlboro), who scored the Jersey Blues’ goal against CCRI, and Kendal Kryzan (Middletown South) share the team scoring honors with 18 points. Each has eight goals and two assists. Kerry O’Mara (Middletown North) leads the team with seven assists.
O’Mara and Lauren Lovallo (Old Bridge), have scored 13 points each. Lovallo has four goals and five assists and O’Mara has three goals to go with her seven assists.
With All-American Tammy Wood (South River) in goal, BCC’s defense, despite some early season injuries, has been as tough as expected. Veterans Laura North (Middletown South), Jessica Roy (Sayreville) and Katie Lipman (Howell) have anchored an experienced unit that has made it difficult for team’s to get shots on goal against. And when they do, Wood is there to clean things up.
With eight starters back from last year’s Region XIX runner-up and GSAC champion, the Blues have both depth and experience and both are playing crucial roles.
“Our depth has helped us, everyone is contributing,” said Lawrence. “We have a have a lot of sophomores and that has been a big help. They know what to do and they bring leadership.”
Today, BCC is stepping up in class again going up against Lafayette College jayvee at 3 p.m. The Blues seven-game home stand concludes on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Montgomery Rockville.
They hit the road for games against Sussex (Oct. 20) and Burlington (Oct. 27) before the Region XIX tournament begins Oct. 29. Brookdale is hosting the championship game in Lincroft Oct. 31 at 1 p.m.
Mohawk Valley, Utica, N.Y., is the site for this year’s junior college nationals (Nov. 6-7).