Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Immaculate Heart Turns Aside PC

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Immaculate Heart Turns Aside PC

Article excerpt

PARAMUS -- The sun was setting on the turf of Paramus Catholic, but the sound of optimism was rising in Immaculate Heart coach Brandon Silva's voice.

"I do think something special is going to happen to this group," he said Tuesday of his girls soccer team, less than one year removed from a mythical national championship. "At least I hope it does. And if it doesn't, we're going to have fun trying."

The Blue Eagles had just finished off a 2-0 win over the Paladins, with a goal and assist from Erin Spillane, one score from Alexa Buffa and over a handful of other opportunities set up by the deft, facilitating play of Sophia Gulati.

By their own account, though, it wasn't a complete offensive performance, which has been the case for IHA at times this season -- both in wins and losses.

"We still haven't found our stride yet," Silva said. "We're still trying to figure things out. But we're finding it in bits and pieces. And I think it's coming."

Silva is cognizant that the Blue Eagles seem to have played up -- and down -- to their competition through the first five weeks of the season. It's been a much different ride than the storybook, undefeated run IHA went on last year.

For comparison, IHA was 13-0 through 13 games last year, and outscored its opponents, 54-1. This season, the Blue Eagles are 10- 3 -- albeit with the losses to national powers Maria Carrillo (Calif.), McDonogh (Md.) and Somers (N.Y.) -- while outscoring their opponents, 38-12.

"We talk about the word professionalism and the idea that you have to come to work every day with the same effort," Silva said. "But they're human beings and that doesn't typically happen. There are bad days and there are good days. The soccer up here is very, very good.

"But there are some days that mentally we're not where we should be. It's not how it should be, but these are 16- to 17-year-old kids we're talking about."

The bar has been raised so high, the expectations placed on it so great, it's almost as if IHA is falling victim to its incredible success of last season. …

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