Ulmer’s philosophy could be why the Bulldogs are on a five-game winning streak with the latest victory coming Oct. 24 when they whitewashed the Shore Conference’s Mater Dei Prep, 36-0. Metuchen owns a 3- 0 record in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Blue Division, is 6-1 overall and will enjoy a bye week before an important clash Nov. 7 at Spotswood High School (3-0 division, 5-2 overall).
The winner of that game will be the favorite to capture the Blue Division, although the Bulldogs would still have to defeat Highland Park High School (1-2 division, 3-3 overall) on Thanksgiving Day. Spotswood hosts Middlesex High School (2-1 division, 5-2 overall) Oct. 31 and also needs a victory to remain tied with Metuchen for the division lead.
“I have a real special team this year that only focuses on the upcoming game,” Ulmer said. “We haven’t spoken about division titles or power points. All of that will take care of [itself]. The game in front of us is always the most important.”
Senior Jake Lebovits is a seasoned quarterback with a strong arm and has run the offense with confidence. Senior Peter DiMeglio is undersized at fullback but is an effective blocker who can grind out tough yards. The leading offensive linemen have been George Decker and Alex Buzzi, while Cole Caposino has been a standout on defense at safety.
Ulmer doesn’t speak about the value of tight end and linebacker Devin Miller. The talented junior has received a scholarship offer from Rutgers University, where his older brother, Dorian, is a team member. Every time Miller touches the ball, whether he’s playing offense or defense, he is a threat to do something special.
“The one element that made our team successful is our players believe in each other [and] our system and come ready to work hard each day,” Ulmer said.
Metuchen is currently ranked fourth in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II standings with 78 points and needs a win against Spotswood to secure a first-round home game.
Metuchen senior distance runner Rachel Suss added another GMC cross-country championship to her growing collection of accomplishments. Suss’ time was 18:52.3 for the race held Oct. 23 at Thompson Park in Jamesburg, where she holds the school record for that course.
Her team managed to finish in second place based on the performances of Suss, junior Rachel Wentnick, who placed 15th (20:33.37), and senior Kristina Lignell, who finished 21st (20:54.22).
The other regulars for a Metuchen team that captured the small school Fall Classic Oct. 10 include hardworking freshman Emma Capron; junior Elizabeth Lawson, who overcame shin splints earlier this season; and Suss’ sister, Nina, another freshman who improves each day after not running competitively before this fall.
Lignell missed most of the last two years due to injury and sickness, and Wentnick is in her first year running since suffering a concussion as an eighth-grader.
Rachel Suss, of course, has been most responsible for Metuchen’s success.
“Rachel is a true leader,” head coach Kelli Holleran said. “She not only contributes her talent to the team but has a love for her teammates that is evident every day at practice and during meets. We are fortunate to have such a hardworking, motivated, team-oriented and compassionate young lady to be associated with our program.”
In the boys championships, St. Joseph High School of Metuchen placed third in the team standings, Metuchen finished fourth and J.P. Stevens High School placed fifth.
The following area boys placed in the top 20: Dylan Tyrrell, senior, St. Joe’s (16:24.42, sixth); Jake Beacher, sophomore, Metuchen (16:29.82, eighth); Aaron John, senior, J.P. Stevens (16:44.19, 17th); Shay Mallick, sophomore, J.P. Stevens (16:46.90, 19th); and Matthew Costello, St. Joe’s (16:48.37, 20th).
The GMC boys and girls soccer tournaments are underway with the St. Joe’s and Metuchen boys and the Bishop George Ahr High School and Metuchen girls still alive through last weekend.
In the boys bracket, the Falcons (10-8- 1) defeated the Bishop Ahr, 2-1, Oct. 24 to advance to the quarterfinals Oct. 27 with East Brunswick High School (14-3-1), while the Bulldogs (13-4) advanced to the quarterfinals on the same date against New Brunswick High School (17-0) by knocking off Spotswood High School, 3-2, Oct. 24.
In the girls tournament, the Trojans (15- 1) dispatched North Brunswick Township High School, 5-0, Oct. 23 to advance to the quarterfinals Oct. 27 against Wardlaw-Hartridge School (16-2-1). The Bulldogs (15- 2-1) earned a hard-fought, 1-0 decision over Spotswood to reach the quarterfinals, where it played East Brunswick (10-7) Oct. 27.
The semifinals will be Oct. 29 and the finals two days later at Woodbridge High School.
The Bishop Ahr boys (10-6-1) have already clinched their first berth in the state tournament since 2001. Head coach Tommy Lacson considers the team’s success this season to be a quantum leap for the program moving forward.
“The 12th seed we received for the GMC Tournament was our highest ever and it reflects the strides our program has made,” he said. “The players who have surprised me this year are John Delagnese, a transfer from [now closed Cardinal McCarrick High School], and our goalkeepers Anthony Tirri and Danny Cardona. Danny is a junior, so we’ll be strong in the net next year.” Bishop George Ahr High School’s Lauren Jurcsek, left, brings the ball upfield as she looks to get past Edison High School’s Monica Roca during the Oct. 15 game played on Bishop Ahr’s soccer pitch in Edison. Bishop Ahr scored a 3-0 victory in the match. The information was reported incorrectly in last week’s edition.