Audubon girls’ soccer coach Bill Scully has seen his share of success.
Division titles, South Jersey championships and a respectable number of wins have defined a fruitful tenure with the Green Wave. But one thing remained elusive over that time: a state championship
That was until this season.
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Seven-ranked Audubon rolled through a strong season with 17 wins. The Green Wave captured the South Jersey Group 1 title before toppling Glen Ridge in penalty kicks for win the Group 1 state title.
For his team’s stellar run, Scully is the 2018 Courier-Post Girls’ Soccer Coach of the Year.
“We just tried to instill a mentality of hard work and never giving in, never giving up. … They just believed this whole season,” Scully, who has 269 career wins in 22 years at Audubon, said.
From the start, Scully knew he had a competitor in South Jersey. He figured his team had a chance to make a playoff run, but even he admittedly didn’t expect this much success.
“I believed with our work ethic and who we had coming back that was a realistic goal,” Scully said of a sectional crown. “When we won South Jersey, the next day we realized there might be a bigger situation. They immediately shifted their focus and believed they could do this.”
It wasn’t that the Green Wave weren’t talented, it was more that they were young. The roster featured enough seniors to count on one hand.
Meanwhile, it came down to star underclassmen to lead the way like Aysiah Maldonado.
“In the beginning of the season, he was like, ‘I see that you have a lot of potential,’ and he just made me calm as a freshman,” she said. “Going into the playoffs he was like, ‘I have so much faith in you.’ That was all I needed.”
“I said, ‘Listen. We have some high expectations and we’ve been a pretty good team. We believe that you’re capable of doing this. There’s no pressure on you. If something happens, it is what it is,’” Scully added.
The freshman keeper made 24 saves over two Group 1 state playoff contests. Not to mention her spectacular effort in PKs to stifle Glen Ridge’s chances.
Scully also fostered a learning environment for budding stars Emily Owens, Emily McGrath and Quinci Battle to lead the way even as sophomores.
“He pushed us really hard. That’s what really got us to this point. The way we went over every play for every game. That’s really how we got here,” Owens said. “We knew we would have a tough schedule but we worked through it.”
Normally with a young roster, it takes time. There are growing pains, especially when two leading scorers depart the offseason before.
“If we lost a game, he was like ‘You guys put your heart and soul into the game. That’s all I ever ask,’” Maldonado said.
But with an experienced coach instilling belief in his girls, they performed like a well-seasoned program.
This included dispatching Shore and Glen Ridge, mainstays in the Group 1 state final games for much of the last few years. A task that may have been daunting to many was no sweat for Scully’s squad.
“Most of what happened in the last week for us just showed how much heart this team has,” he said. “To look at your team and tell them they’re state champions is such an amazing feeling.”
Without Scully, however, this probably doesn’t happen. Now that it has, the Green Wave are ready to do it again.
“All of his hard work paid off after all of these years of coaching,” Maldonado said. “It was great to see him win a state championship and be a part of that.”
Daniel Spevak; (856) 486-2420; firstname.lastname@example.org