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Coming off a transformational two seasons in which the program was one of the best in the state, the Holmdel girls soccer team entered 2022 with a lot of new faces in the starting lineup, as well as on the sideline.

Brianna Brennan took over as head coach and in her first season, the Hornets are playing like a team that has designs on remaining competitive in the Shore Conference and in Group II.

The Hornets are off to an 8-3 start and with a big overtime road win over Wall, followed by a showcase win over Mount St. Mary, Holmdel is the fourth Surf Taco Girls Soccer Team of the Week in 2022.

Photo: Steve Meyer
Photo: Steve Meyer

Holmdel opened the season with a respectable 5-3 record, but the loss of its senior star power from 2021 seemed to shine through when the Hornets went up against the marquee programs in the Shore Conference. The first major test was a 5-1 loss to Red Bank Catholic -- the team that handed the Hornets their only loss last year -- and the second was a 4-1 loss to reigning South Jersey Group IV champion Toms River North.

A 2-0 loss to Rumson-Fair Haven dropped Holmdel to 5-3, but the Hornets opened last week with one more chance to upend a high-profile division opponent. Holmdel traveled to Wall on Sept. 28 and jumped out to a 2-1 halftime lead behind goals by sophomore Brielle McClarnon and senior Taylor Bielan. The Crimson Knights leveled the score in the second half, sending the game into overtime.

In overtime, sophomore Lily Reardon put the pressure on Wall's back line and forced a game-ending own goal to hand Wall just its second loss of the season.

Holmdel followed its early-week win with a 2-0 victory over Mount St. Mary at the Mountains vs. Seas Showcase on a rainy Saturday at the Capelli Sports Complex. Bielan and Reardon also delivered goals in that game, with Bielan also assisting Reardon's goal.

This week's action started with Holmdel beating Trinity Hall in overtime, which moved the Hornets to 4-0 in overtime games this season.

While Holmdel lost most of its production from 2021, Bielan was the team's third-leading goal-scoring and second overall scorer a year ago with 13 goals and 14 assists.

Bielan is again No. 2 on the team in scoring with seven goals and three assists and that is because of the breakout season from Reardon, who was a starter by the end of her freshman year, but not a frequent scorer in Holmdel's loaded lineup. Reardon leads the Hornets with eight goals and four assists.

After reaching back-to-back Group II championship games in 2014 and 2015, Holmdel did not post a winning record from 2016 to 2019. While it remains to be seen if this year's team can have anywhere near the same success as the 2021 team did by winning the Group II title, this Holmdel side has shown it still knows how to win.


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