By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
It hasn’t been easy to score goals against the Egg Harbor Township girls soccer team the past couple of years. Of the 64 games the Eagles have played the past four seasons, only 11 times have they ceded more than two goals in a game, and seven of those occasions came against Ocean City and Haddonfield, two of the best teams in South Jersey. Against all other competition, EHT has allowed more than two goals in just four of 57 games.
And in the past four years, 32 of EHT’s 39 wins have come via shutout.
A big reason for that success has been Casey Biglan. She, along with players like Megan Maul, Kristen Semet and Nicole Danz, came in as freshman and began making a big impact for coach Christian Wiech’s squad.
“We’ve been lucky that we’ve had not only Casey Biglan, but Megan Maul, as four-year varsity starters. Megan was an outside back when she was a freshman, then transitioned into the middle with Casey and the two of them are dynamic together. We broke the record last year for shutouts (in a season) with 12 and you can see the kind of play Casey commands the field with,” Wiech said. “Megan and Casey both had the mentality and maturity as players that we had no reservations (about starting them as a freshmen). Back then they were playing alongside Siani Magruder, and we had a solid back four with them and Emily Rudolph. I had full confidence in them as freshmen and it’s been such a luxury the last four years knowing that I have the two of them back there.”
“We’ve been playing since we were nuggets, and it’s sad to see it coming to an end, but it’s been amazing to play soccer with my best friends,” Semet said after a recent win. “We all started freshman year; Nikki just broke the (career scoring) record and she’s been a key staple for us at forward. But she couldn’t just do it by herself, there’s Casey and Megan in the back and they’ve been playing since freshman year and they really hold the line. It’s a team effort, from Nikki up front to Casey in the back, we’re solid.”
Egg Harbor Township has been right up there in the conversation among the top teams in the Cape-Atlantic League along with the likes of Mainland Regional and Millville, all chasing Ocean City, the 2019 Group 3 state champion and one of the top teams in the state. Biglan said playing those types of teams was a little intimidating when she was a 14-year-old freshman.
“I have a vivid memory freshman year against Mainland, we were away and there were so many fans who came to watch. I remember looking at Megan and we were both like, ‘holy crap, this is so real.’ And now, playing games like that as a senior, we just hope we can finish the year strong, Biglan said after a midseason game against Atlantic City. “This is my favorite time of the year and it’s something that has grown me into the player that I am, and I hope I can continue my career at the collegiate level. Starting from freshman year, when it was me, Nikki, Kristen and Megan, to continue all four years having them by my side — and now the rest of the girls we’ve grown up with to finish our senior year — it’s something I’ll never forget.”
“Casey has been playing soccer with me since I was 8 years old and she’s always been a standout center back. She’s been the rock of our program. She gets recognition, but she deserves so much more. She’s so strong and really sets the tone in the back. She’s been an amazing four-year varsity starter,” Danz said. “It’s important to have that because you need someone to keep the defense in line. You have to have someone who is willing to step up and hold everyone in front of them accountable to make sure that the ball doesn’t get through the defensive line.”
Biglan’s high school soccer career came to an end in November, and she’ll leave the program having gone 39-20-5 during her four-year career. She said she hopes she has made an impact on the underclassmen in the program.
“It’s a hard reality to realize how old I’m getting and that my involvement in this sport is going to have to end sometime, so I’m just trying to have fun and remember everything I can because I’m playing with some great girls, and I hope to be friends with them for the rest of my life,” she said. “I hope that if the younger girls take anything from me, I hope they remember to have fun and that we all want the same things — to come out with the win, to have fun and to create memories. If we do that and people remember that it’s a team sport, that will help this program continue to be successful.”
Wiech said Biglan doesn’t need to doubt that she made an impact with the younger girls on the team.
“That’s cultivated in our program for four years with all these girls. The seniors did the same thing with her. We have a lot of mentoring programs in place, from our youth camps in the summer where we have the seniors counsel, we have different big sister-little sister mentoring programs we do with our JV program, so we give them an opportunity to become leaders,” he said. “A lot of the time they do step up, and Casey is a prime example of that.”
Now is a time for reflection for all the seniors who play fall sports, and Biglan said she has a bit of advice for her younger self, if time travel were a thing.
“I would probably tell my younger self to be confident,” she said. “I remember being pretty intimidated. Coming in (to varsity) as a freshman is hard, but to see where I am now, and looking at the freshmen now and seeing how close we’ve gotten with them, I just tell them to remember to be themselves and be confident, and enjoy every day.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays