MONROE – As defending GMC White Division co-champions in girls basketball, both Monroe and South Plainfield know they have to be at their best from start to finish. In their first head-to-head matchup, Monroe put together quite a start.Monroe opened up a 15-0 lead in the first quarter and was able to lead throughout, defeating South Plainfield 68-43 at Monroe High School on Tuesday.“I loved the way we came out today,” said Monroe head coach Leigh Vogtman. “I thought our defense was where we needed it to be and we were hitting our shots, which was something we weren’t doing against J.P. Stevens.”Erica Junquet and Ashlyn Petersen led the Monroe offense and did most of their damage away from the basket. Junquet finished with 15 points and 12 assists, while Petersen hit five three-pointers on her way to 23 points.Junquet normally scores on drives to the basket, but also hit two threes in the contest. South Plainfield had to step out to defend her and Junquet was able to rack up assists, whipping the ball around the court and even finding Petersen with effective no-look passes.“It definitely helps a lot. Most of our game is in transition, but when we can hit outside shots, it’s a lot easier,” said Junquet.Along with their offense, Monroe’s defense was stout throughout most of the game, only allowing five points in both the first and fourth quarters. Their one blemish was the second quarter, where the Falcons gave up 20 points to South Plainfield. The Tigers went into a full press and was able to disrupt Monroe’s offense and was able to get quick scores.
Monroe Township 57, Spotswood 21
113: Nicholas Lombard (MOTO) over Justin Thompson (SPOT) (Fall 1:58) 120: Shawn Gardini (MOTO) over Tyler Jacobs (SPOT) (Fall 0:48) 126: Joe Zargo (MOTO) over Tyler Egan (SPOT) (Fall 1:45) 132: Salvatore Profaci (MOTO) over Shea Obado (SPOT) (Fall 2:53) 138: Chris Muce (MOTO) over (SPOT) (For.) 145: Donald Albach (MOTO) over Brandon Grover (SPOT) (Fall 3:25) 152: Richard Melvin (SPOT) over Jared Parisen (MOTO) (Dec 7-6) 160: Christopher Turchio (MOTO) over Michael LeRoy (SPOT) (Fall 1:39) 170: Kevin Creech (MOTO) over James Witt (SPOT) (Dec 6-2) 182: Ejike Okafor (SPOT) over (MOTO) (For.) 195: Jordan Rodriguez (SPOT) over Kaylon Bradley (MOTO) (Fall 2:44) 220: Nicholas Goff (MOTO) over (SPOT) (For.) 285: Nicholas Fromhold (MOTO) over (SPOT) (For.) 106: Thomas Saulle (SPOT) over Nicholas DePalma (MOTO) (Fall 1:58)
Matt Cocorikins finished with a game-high 30 points to lead Monroe over J.P. Stevens, 52-41, in Edison.
Eddie Pinto added 10 points as Monroe took a 22-15 lead into halftime.
Alex Corrigan led J.P. Stevens with 21 points and six rebounds.
When Keith Hudak abruptly stepped in to become the head coach of the Monroe High School field hockey team, he was very unsure of how the season would play out. With so many questions, he knew that in order to be successful, his seniors would need to step up in a big way.
"At the beginning of the season when we got the news about Coach P (Ashleigh Pecherski) leaving, we got a bit worried," said Hudak. "We were a bit worried but we were able to stick together as a group."
Hudak knew he had to count on his seniors in a big way if they were to be successful, and one of those seniors, Jenna Parisen, decided that, despite the obstacles in their way, she wanted her team to go out with a bang.
"Jenna was one of the ladies that led the team along with the other captains," said Hudak. "Some things went our way and we got a couple bounces, but the girls kept working so hard and deserve everything they got."
For her efforts and an outstanding season, Parisen is this year’s Home News Tribune Field Hockey Player of the Year.
It’s been a wild season for Parisen, as a senior on the team she was asked to lead in a big way after Pecherski left the squad, something that she said wasn’t very easy to deal with.
"We were all in shock," said Parisen. "She told us at the end of the first practice and a lot of us took it really hard so it was hard seeing her go."
"I just remember after that practice saying to myself that I’m not going to let this team go under…I just knew we had other ways of succeeding and coach Hudak stepped right up. We were shocked but we knew we had to overcome it."
The Falcons did just that, finishing the season 19-1-1, good for the most wins in school history, to go along with a Greater Middlesex Conference championship as well as a spot in the North 2 Group IV semifinals, where the Falcons fell to Hunterdon Central.
Parisen led the way, scoring 31 goals to go with 14 assists, setting an example not only on the field, but off the field as well.
"We were able to accomplish amazing things for Monroe field hockey this season," said Parisen. "We had really strong leadership throughout the season and everyone gave their heart…Coach Hudak was such an amazing coach and he stepped up right from the first practice. I knew he was going to be an amazing coach and I credit how hard he really worked."
With or without star forward Alex Infosino, the Monroe Township High School boys soccer team (21-3-1) is on a 12-match winning streak and has already collected a trophy with the possibility of adding another.
The Falcons (fourth seed) dispatched Freehold Township High School (ninth seed) in Central Jersey Group IV to advance to the championship game on Nov. 13 at Manalapan High School (second seed).
Two days earlier, Monroe won the GMC Tournament title by defeating St. Joseph High School of Metuchen by a 2-1 score. In that game, the Falcons demonstrated their depth when David Durski deposited a shot in the right corner of the net following a pass from Matt Hoyt to score the winning goal. Infosino (25 goals) limped off with an ankle injury 10 minutes into the period.
Infosino did not play in the victory over Freehold Township. Durski (12 goals) scored along with Hunter Merrick (six goals) in the second half to provide the cushion the Falcons needed to advance to the sectional finals. According to head coach Steve MacKenzie, he is unsure about Infosino’s availability for the Manalapan game.
The Falcons earned their trip to the conference tournament finals with a 4-0 shutout against East Brunswick on Nov. 6. Monroe built a 2-0 lead before a player for the Bears was issued a red card, which gave the Falcons a one-man edge for the remainder of the game.
East Brunswick was not able to extend their winning streak against a strong Monroe team tonight for Senior night at East Brunswick. Monroe got off to a quick 13-0 lead in the first quarter with a Akeer Franklin run for 67 yards followed by a one yard touchdown by Stephen Karoly and a failed extra point. In the second quarter Monroe extended the lead when JT Allan caught a touchdown pass to make the score 20-0. The Bears were then able to mount a strong drive and looked poised to score, but finally had to try for a field goal which missed leaving the score 20-0 at the half. In the first possession of the second half, the Bears drove the ball strongly. Kevin Hemmings kept the drive alive with a spectacular 4th down run for a first down, but East Brunswick had to settle for a field goal by Alex Boyko. Monroe was unstoppable on the next run ripping up huge chunks of yardage on the ground and quickly had the score 27-3. East Brunswick was able to regroup and played tough the rest of the game, but they were not able to score again and Monroe padded the score in the last seconds with a meaningless touchdown to make the final score 34-3.
At half time, the team not only had the ceremony for the senior cheerleaders, but also had a special ceremony to honor the 10 year anniversary of the 2004 State Champion Football team. For those of us that remember that team, this was a really nice thing to do.
The Band put on a wonderful show as they always do – Thanks!
A 17-year-old high school ice hockey player from New Jersey is recovering in the hospital after breaking his neck when he was checked into the boards during a game over the weekend, and his family says he’s doing well.
Michael Nichols, a senior forward for the Falcons of Middlesex County’s Monroe Township High School, had already scored one goal and had two assists when he raced for a loose puck during Saturday’s game against Vernon. He took a shot and was checked into the wall from behind, causing him to smash headfirst into the boards, according to his family.
"He said, ‘Dad, I can’t feel anything,’" his father, Steven Nichols, said at the Morristown Memorial Hospital Monday. "And I went onto the ice and he had great spirits. He said, ‘I was the best player on the ice tonight,’ and I said, ‘You were, son.’ Next thing I knew, we were here."
He was airlifted from the Skylands Ice World arena in Sussex County and taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fracture to his C5 vertebrae.
Doctors stabilized Michael and performed surgery on his broken neck Sunday afternoon. They say it’s too early to say whether he’ll walk or skate again.
But Michael is sure he will. His father recounted his son’s words: "’Dad, that ice that I couldn’t get up from the other night, I’m going back to it, I’m going to stand up on it.’"
Steven Nichols added, "And I believe he will, and I believe a big part of the reason he will is because of the outpouring of support from everybody."
Twitter and Facebook have exploded with messages of support for Michael from family, friends, fans and hockey teams from other school districts across the state who are using the hashtag #prayformikey to rally for him. Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed when he broke his neck during a game, has promised he will "reach out real soon."
The Nichols family said Michael is reading every message.
"Sometimes out of bad things, good things happen, and the good thing out of this is to know how much love has come Mikey’s way. It’s wonderful," said Steven Nichols.
Michael’s mother, Christine, added tearfully, "We really, really appreciate it, and we need it."
According to the Falcons’ website, Michael is a varsity alternate captain who has won awards for "intense consistent effort."
He tweeted the day of the game, "I’m a team player, if I win then we won, they gon put us all in the hall of fame when we done."
Monroe Athletics Director Greg Beyer declined MyCentralJersey.com’s request for comment.
Michael is scheduled to graduate from Monroe Township High School this spring.