BY ANDREW DAVISON Staff Writer Aveteran lineup gives Middletown High School South soccer coach Tara Ernst assurance of surpassing last year’s five victories in her inaugural season as head coach there, and the team took its first solid step on Friday, Sept. 17, when it beat crosstown rival Middletown North, 3-0. “We played with a lot of heart. We played like a team,” said Ernst, as Middletown South raised its record to 1-2 after losing its opener to Howell, 4-0, and losing in overtime to Shore Regional, 2-1, when it lost a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes left. Lauren Van Exter, who had one shutout in goal while starting as a freshman last year, did not face many serious threats as Middletown South held a 22-4 edge in shots. Bridget Skinner, one of a number of promising sophomores on the team, who started at center midfield last season, scored the only goal needed at 37:20 on a volley from eight yards out off a header from junior outside midfielder Tara Cangelosi. Ashley Pankey, a sophomore forward, started the play with a throw-in. Sam Ciesmeleski, one of seven seniors on the roster, scored at the 48th minute when Cangelosi crossed the ball to the far post. Brenna Anderson, a senior center midfielder coming off ACL surgery who missed most of the preseason, capped the scoring at the 56th minute when she ran onto a ball sent by sophomore transfer Christine Anselmi. The teams split their two meetings last season, with Middletown South winning the second time, 4-0. Senior sweeper Annmarie Vuono, sophomore stopper Emily Murphy and outside backs senior Natalie Hayes and junior Laurelyn Guglielmo drew praise from Ernst for their defensive efforts in the victory, which is instrumental for the team’s ongoing success with big games coming up against Manalapan and Freehold Township in Shore Conference A North. “The main thing last season was not about positioning but kicking the ball away,” said Ernst, who lost only four players from last year’s team, all in support roles. “I said to them, ‘When you pass the ball, make it count.’ ” But Ernst said she is most pleased about the cohesion the team is showing. “They play well as a team. They control the ball more, and the captains are good at executing that,” said Ernst, referring to Anderson, Vuono and Hayes. Juniors Kelly McQuade at forward and Kira Jarostchuk at outside fullback have experience as starters last year, but Ernst said she also can turn to seniors Jackie Melore as a midfielder and forward, Bri Introcaso as a fullback, and Kristen Turkovic, who is getting back into playing shape from an injury.