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Irvington Girls Soccer Team Faces Task of Repeating Magical Season

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August 27, 2023

By Tom Pedulla—

The Irvington girls’ soccer team has an impossible act to follow. Its own.

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The Bulldogs enjoyed a magical run last season to produce the school’s first Class B state championship in the sport and finish with a glistening 19-4-1 record.

Although that unforgettable accomplishment will always top the list of unforgettable moments and this year’s roster will face a new set of challenges that includes a move up to Class A, Coach Patrick DiBenedetto is using the past to help current players move forward.

During a preseason meeting, he said he told them, “What happened last season was last season and we have a new season. You see what and why things happened maybe that way last year and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’ve got to focus on. This is why we got as far as we did, coming together as a unit, playing like a family.’”

Recapturing that tight-knit atmosphere will not be easy due to the graduation of nine seniors. Keira Nyarady, a senior co-captain, as is Niki DeNardo, is not making any concessions. After all, the Bulldogs know what it is to achieve the unthinkable.

“I don’t think anyone thought we could go as far as we did, but we still did,” Nyarady said. “It’s a large group of new girls, but I don’t think anything is impossible. I think we have a big chance of doing well.”

Nyarady and DeNardo lead on and off the field. Nyarady, a midfielder, is as consistent as they come. DeNardo, a striker, brings a wealth of experience. She has been with the team since eighth grade. Forward Addie Dring competes with great energy and serves as a sparkplug. Fellow senior Sofia Rosenblatt will provide a lift whenever she is able to return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Amanda Berry and Jules Edelman are the other seniors and they excel as a defensive tandem. “That’s going to be critical for us as we adjust to the new players coming up,” DiBenedetto said.

A key to success will be the progress of sophomore goalie Cori Castellano. “We’re looking forward to seeing what she can do,” the coach said. “She’s committed to her position. We talk constantly about ways she can improve.”

Midfielder Allie Cloutman, wing Samara Bashista and forward Aly Raimondo also will play significant roles as the Bulldogs step up to Class A, a move DiBenedetto views as a mixed blessing. “Obviously, that is more of a challenge for us,” he said, “but it is good for the kids to get exposure to some of the bigger schools.”

This looms as an extremely challenging season as the Bulldogs defend their state title. “You have a target on your back coming into the season,” DiBenedetto said. “The girls are super pumped up and ready to go.”


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