The Eastern High School girls soccer team’s successful season came to an end after a 3-0 loss to Freehold Township. But the squad finished the season with a 20-2-2 record, the highest winning percentage in the Olympic Conference and first place in the South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament.
“I thought we overachieved to be honest,” said Coach Jamie McGroarty, who acknowledged that this year’s team has fewer college-level players than in previous years. “The fact we got to where we did was not expected. For us to win the coaches tournament and South Jersey … I think we overachieved.
“If you look at our roster, we don’t have a lot of girls who are playing college soccer, high- level club teams,” he added. “A lot of the teams in the past always (did). We had to do things a little different, grind some things out. We were fortunate to have a really good defense this year.”
McGroarty joined elite company earlier this year by becoming only one of three South Jersey soccer coaches to amass 500 wins. But he said his lasting memory of the 2022 season is more about the team than himself.
“We always had a different hero; we didn’t rely on any one person,” he explained. “Winning the coaches tournament is not something a lot of programs get the chance to do. We were fortunate to (win) again. Then Group 4 – same thing.
“There are teams like Shawnee, Cherokee that are probably more talented, but we found a way to beat them,”
McGroarty said his team felt prepared for the playoffs after facing difficult Olympic Conference competition during the regular season, something that will prepare returning team members for the upcoming seasons.
“Playing in the Olympic American Conference, (those teams) are the best of the best,” he noted. “To see them one, two, even three times a year before you enter the state tournament wears on your body, but it also prepares you for that intensity, that speed of the game.”
McGroarty said his team has a lot to be proud of, with no shame in losing to a better Freehold team.
“Unfortunately this year, with Freehold, we had to play probably the best team in (New Jersey),” he acknowledged. “They were above us this year. Other than that, we were right there with anybody.”
After years of teaching at Eastern, McGroarty will retire from his role as a physical education instructor on Dec. 31. He will continue to coach the soccer team for now.