HADDON HEIGHTS –- Madie Bee has a tough act to follow coming off a sophomore season that saw her score 31 goals with seven assists.
It was a year in which Bee helped her Haddonfield High School girls soccer team to a 25-2 record and a berth in the state Group 2 state championship, where the Bulldawgs fell just short of a crown.
Now Bee says the team is approaching the new season feeling the need to take care of some, ``unfinished business.”
“Last year we went down 1-0 (to Parsippany Hills) in the final 10 minutes,” said Bee, a Seton Hall recruit. “This year our goal is to bring home that state championship.”
With Bee leading the way, the Bulldawgs got off to a good start. Her hat trick led Haddonfield to a 3-0 season-opening win over Thursday over Colonial Conference rival Haddon Heights.
“I thought we dominated the play a lot and it was in our end most of the time,” Bee said. “Based on today, I think the season looks really bright for us. I know what we’re capable of, and I think we can do more than we did in the game we just played.”
Indeed, coach Lori Quintavalle has a team that’s loaded with talented players.
While Bee was rewarded with All-South Jersey and all-conference honors last years, others made their share of contributions.
One of them was junior Nic Green, who scored three goals with nine assists en route to being named second-team All-South Jersey,
She is one of the players who believes the Bulldawgs have something special going for them with Bee as their spiritual and physical leader.
“I feel like she brings a spark to everybody,” Green said. “She comes to practice ready to play all the time. She’s our goal-scorer and everybody is there to just support her. When you see her running up the field you just want to play harder.”
Bee scored two goals in the first half and one in the second. Two of the tallies came on penalty kicks, but one came on a nicely executed head ball that was set up by Isabella Nugent.
It’s clear in watching the Bulldawgs play that the offense is designed to help Bee get the ball in a position where she can do something with it.
Many games are likely to come down to a battle of wills between Bee and the opposing defense.
“I expect her to get a lot of goals and I expect people to try to shut her down,” Quintavalle said. “I expect her to have to work hard for those goals, and for other people to score as well.”
The coach describes Bee as a player who also can distribute the ball and get her teammates involved in the offense, and Bee agrees.
“I think I’m a team player,” she said. “All forwards are selfish and I’m definitely selfish. But when there is some one better to pass to, I will play to them.”
But it seems pretty obvious the Bulldawgs are at their best when Bee is on the receiving end of a pass. When she is, she’s got multiple ways to do something positive with it.
“She’s got great vision,” Quintavalle said. “She gets on the receiving end of a lot of balls. If we put it in the air, she’ll find it and finish it.”
Bee spoke about how she was man-marked defensively throughout Thursday’s game and she has no doubt she will be heavily defended in every game this season.
She says she hopes to turn any kind of exotic defense opposing coaches design into a positive.
“All that does is open up more space for my team,” she said. “I was man-marked today, but I’m still able to get away from it.”
Among Bee’s attributes are a size and strength advantage she feels she has over many of her opponents.
“I’m strong on the ball,” she said when asked to assess her attributes as a player . “I’m pretty good at finishing. I live next to a soccer field, so I’m always out there working.
I definitely think I’m hard-working.”
It shows on the field.
Haddon Heights 0-0--0
Goals: Madie Bee 3. Goalies: Haddonfield Maya Olympio, Haddon Heights: Rachel Irish.