(WORTH MENTIONING is an ongoing feature from the South Jersey Glory Days staff in which we recognize a player, coach or team for doing something outstanding, give our thoughts on why it’s important, and what it means for the particular program mentioned. If you see or hear about something worth mentioning, email South Jersey Glory Days Publisher Dave O’Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Playing in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament championship game on Oct. 24, Mainland Regional freshman midfielder Savannah Jones showed no fear against Ocean City — one of the top teams in the state the past couple of years and last year’s league champion.
She’s only about 5-foot-2, but this rookie proved all year that she’s not afraid to go up against 18-year-old seniors any time, anywhere, and the impressive thing about Jones is not only can she hold her own, she spent this fall outplaying a lot of girls who are older and have more varsity experience. She tallied eight goals, second on the team only to junior Ava Tenaglia, and notched three assists to finish the season with 19 points, just four behind Tenaglia for the team lead. She had either a goal or an assist in eight of Mainland’s 17 games, and when she did score a point the Mustangs were a perfect 8-0.
What really struck me, though, when watching her play on a couple of occasions this year was her savvy for the game. Sure, she’s going to have a high motor because she’s a young freshman full of energy and wanting to make an impact on the varsity level, but not many players her age are smart enough to know when to dial it back a little bit to conserve energy for the second half. A lot of young players chase, and keep chasing, as defenders pass the ball around in the back to mount an attack. But she was aware enough — and credit good coaching from Chris Meade and his staff for this — to hang back a little, read what’s happening in front of her, and be ready to pounce when a counter-attack opportunity came up.
Soccer is a grind — not just in each game, but throughout the course of a season — and a player’s body takes a beating. Knowing when to throttle back to conserve energy and the legs is going to really benefit Jones as her career moves forward.
- Dave O’Sullivan, South Jersey Glory Days Publisher