The only thing that might move faster than a cheetah is Gloucester County Institute of Technology sophomore Meghan Guarente climbing up the South Jersey high school soccer scoring leaders.
Guarente, a Sewell native, had 17 goals through the Cheetahs’ first 16 games of the 2018 season. Entering the fourth week of October, Guarente led all South Jersey Group 3 players in goals scored and led the Tri-County Conference Royal Division.
She is closing in on the GCIT all-time single-season scoring record, too.
“She’s a very good player,” said GCIT coach Bryan Vahey. “She’s just two goals away from tying the school record. Jessica Beck, who plays at Rowan now, scored 18 two years ago to break it and then scored 19 last year to break her own record. Meghan’s got 17 and we’ve got quite a few (games left): two Tech team tournaments, the playoffs, and two more regular season games.”
What’s most remarkable about Guarente’s season is how successful she’s been in the last month alone. She’s scored in seven consecutive games and has a grand total of 14 goals in those seven games.
From Oct. 1 to Oct. 13, Guarente scored multiple goals in five straight games. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Cheetahs won each of those five games, beating Williamstown, Kingsway, Triton, Westhampton Tech and Gateway.
“It just feels really nice to be leading the team, we’re really working together and winning some games,” Guarente said. “I think about (the goal streak) a lot, but I just try to focus on one game at a time and playing well with my team. I’m proud of my team.”
After starting the season 4-4 through eight games, the Cheetahs exploded for eight goals in a shutout win over Salem (surprisingly, Guarente did not tally one of those eight goals) and went 6-1-1 in their next eight games (including Salem) entering play on Oct. 19.
With one of the state’s most explosive scorers hot at the right time, GCIT, which lost in the second round to Ocean City a year ago, might be ready for a run in the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs later this month.
“I really think we’ve come together as a team,” Vahey said. “In the beginning of the year we were working on being better people, and then together as we grew as teammates. She moved up to play forward and starting scoring. She played in the midfield in the beginning.
“And as we started to come together as a team and the girls started to support each other, she slid up, it also involved one of the center backs moving to center mid, and she moved up to forward and we’ve just been way more explosive on offense since then.”