While the fall sports season rapidly approaches, one South Brunswick High School student got an early start in achieving on field success.
Cagnie Antczak, 16, who is about to begin her junior year at SBHS, won the National Futsal Championship with her U16 Hibernian Fusion Team on July 15 in Anaheim, Calif.
Cagnie is a starting defender for the 5-on-5 indoor team based out of Hamilton Township. The girls finished second at the state level at Rutgers University this past winter before moving on to the regional level over President's Day weekend in Wildwood, where they also finished second. The top two teams then advanced to the national level, where the Fusion kicked their game into overdrive by going 4-0 in the tournament, downing LaRoca (Utah) 2-1 in the final match.
"We just took it one game at a time and we kept winning," Cagnie said. "We thought we had a good chance to go all the way. We're proud of where we came from, being the only team from the east, and we are proud to represent New Jersey. When we won, it was just awesome. There are no words to describe how great the feeling was."
The squad, coached by Tom Bayless and Mike Antczak, consists of 10 players (Samantha Barlow, Courtney Bennett, Cayla Carlen, Joan Logan, Rachelle Ross, Julia Tampellini, Emily Vogel, Darah Weber and Kristina Ragolia). Cagnie, who scored one goal and had several assists during the tournament, said she got involved with the squad as a way to stay in shape during the high school offseason.
"One of my soccer teams didn't end up working out so I switched over to this team and really connected with the group of girls," she said. "It was like going to a second family. I really love everyone on the team. I got involved in the program because I wanted to stay in shape during the winter. So when we wound up winning the championship, it was awesome."
Futsal, which plays on a basketball court-sized surface, requires quicker footwork and coordination between teammates.
"It's definitely different, in a sense the game is a lot faster," Cagnie said. "You have to use quick footwork and be connected with your teammates. Players are moving all the time, so you have to know where they are."
Cagnie said she hopes her experience this summer pays off when the Vikings begin the fall soccer season.
"It definitely kept me in shape and makes me realize that I've developed as a player on a team," she said. "I want to take what I learned this summer and translate it into this season to motivate the other girls and let them know we can win. It doesn't matter where we're placed, we can always win and that's a great feeling."
The SBHS girls soccer squad reached the county finals last year with a record of 12-6-1. Cagnie, who saw time at center midfield and stopper, will be relied on for leadership on a team that experienced heavy turnover from last year's roster.
"I feel like we have a brand new team," she said. "We have a young team. We lost 11 seniors, so there's a lot of room for improvement and room for girls so step up and show what they've got. We can only get better and I'm confident we'll do well this year."
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