After a rough week in the middle of October that saw the Union girls’ soccer team lose two regular season games by two goals each and then a Union County Tournament quarterfinal by one goal, the Farmers are out to rebound in hopes of qualifying for next month’s North 2, Group 4 playoffs.
Following a 3-1 Union County Conference-Watchung Division loss at Westfield and then a 2-0 setback at home to Nutley under the lights, fifth-seeded Union was edged at fourth-seeded Oak Knoll 4-3 in a UCT quarterfinal match that took place Oct. 15 in Chatham.
Union began the week of Oct. 17 with a record of 4-8-1.
Scoring for the Farmers in their UCT setback was senior Alyssa Caggiano, sophomore Kayla Veloso-Lima and junior Andrea Santiago. Veloso-Lima and freshman Kelly Jean Severini earned assists.
Union has regular season games remaining – all at home – against Union Catholic Oct. 20, South Plainfield Oct. 24, Cranford Oct. 27 and Gov. Livingston Oct. 29.
“We’ve played three of the state’s top 10 teams and have kept up with them,” first-year head coach Cassiano Dos Santos said.
Caggiano, one of Union’s four captains along with seniors Nneka Moneme and Sofia Melendez and Santiago, a junior, was leading the team in goals and assists according to Dos Santos. Caggiano is a three-year starter.
“Alyssa is very aggressive, very confident and takes players 1-on-1,” Dos Santos said. “She might not be the tallest, but she’s definitely one of the strongest players.”
Moneme, a four-year starter and also a standout basketball player with her specialty being her ability to bring down rebounds, will join her sister Adora at Rutgers to play soccer collegiately.
Santiago and Melendez are two-year starters.
“We’ve been able to keep up with teams,” Dos Santos said. “The kids are really competing.”
Dos Santos is a 2008 Union graduate who played on the varsity during the last three seasons Jim Jeskey was the head coach: 2005, 2006 and 2007. Dos Santos, who was at St. Benedict’s Prep his freshman season, helped lead Union to the 2006 UCT final his junior season.
“He was great, really nice,” Dos Santos said of Jeskey. “He welcomed me here from the start and allowed me to play at the highest level.”
Dos Santos, a Kean graduate, was the junior varsity’s boys’ coach for two years, in addition to coaching the Union Soccer Club’s 13-and-under team.
“I’ve wanted to be a head coach ever since I started coaching,” Dos Santos said. “With the girls this is a great opportunity. It’s been special.
“They seem to show more passion. When they win they are really very happy and when they lose they are very down and upset.”
2016 UNION FARMERS
0-Caitlyn Finnerty, junior
16-Gabby Lamadieu, sophomore
4-Karisse Lora, senior
14-Karen Vera, sophomore
15-Nneka Moneme, senior
9-Melissa Sousa, senior
2-Andrea Santiago, junior
27-Nicole Alfano, sophomore
22-Kelly Jean Severini, freshman
11-Alyssa Caggiano, senior
6-Kayla Miller-People, sophomore
17-Kayla Veloso-Lima, sophomore
19-Kiena Veloso-Lima, sophomore
12-Barbara Ferreira, senior
10-Celeste Ramos, senior
18-Annmarie Keller, junior
8-Sofia Melendez, senior
00-Annalisa Fuzia, junior
3-Samantha Tech, junior
1-Brianna Aguiar, sophomore
7-Takiyah Harris, sophomore
25-Tamia Howell, sophomore
13-Michelle Taras, sophomore
Captains: Moneme, Santiago,
Head coach: Cassiano Dos Santos, first season
Assistant: Heather West