Along with being faithful Christians, junior Adriana Dalia, left, and freshman Ava Gialanella have provided a lethal scoring combination for the St. Rose of Belmar girls’ soccer team this fall. Photo courtesy of Emily Tiernan
Along with being faithful Christians, junior Adriana Dalia, left, and freshman Ava Gialanella have provided a lethal scoring combination for the St. Rose of Belmar girls’ soccer team this fall. Photo courtesy of Emily Tiernan
" I lean on God because I know he’s with us every step of the way ... He’s always there for us, our protection. He runs with us. And he’s always there for us when we need it. I love the support and the guidance. "

Adriana Dalia and Ava Gialanella are not only two of the more dangerous offensive players in Shore Conference girls’ soccer circles, they are also two of the more faith-driven.

Dalia, a junior center-forward from Wall Township, leads St. Rose of Belmar in goals with 14, while Gialanella, a freshman center-midfielder from Barnegat has six goals and 10 assists.

They have helped a young Purple Rose team – which does not have a senior on the roster – to a 7-7-1 record. Having just joined forces this year, the two have formed a lethal combination.

“The chemistry between Ava and Adriana definitely shows on the field,” said Emily Tiernan, now in her first year as head coach of her alma mater. “Although Adriana is able to carry the ball herself and find the back of the net, Ava knows the right spots to play the ball to set Adriana in the best position. Ava’s plays on corner kicks give not only Adriana a great set up, but also anyone in front of the net, the perfect opportunity.”

Dalia had five goals and two assists as a freshman, and eight goals and six assists last year. This season she has just one assist but her goal scoring has exploded thanks in part to Gialanella’s arrival.

“Ava is so good,” Dalia said. “She’s a big addition to our team. We’ve become really good friends on and off the field and I think that helps us in the game.”

Gialanella has been a goal scorer much of her career but having a target like Dalia has her looking to distribute more this season.

“I think she’s a great center forward,” said the freshman, whose older sister Sofia has also contributed to the cause with three goals and three assists. “Adriana brings a lot of talent and a lot of aggression to the field. She’s such a great player to play with.  Her skill on the ball and her powerful shot is just amazing. I love feeding off her, doing combinations, giving her balls in the corner. It’s great.”

As much as the two admire each other, they admire God even more, as both lean heavily on their faith. Dalia attends St. Rose Church in Belmar, while Gialanella worships at St. Mary, Mother of God Church in Middletown.

“Every game I like to pray before the game,” Dalia said. “I think God guides me and brings me towards a certain path.”

Gialanella feels the same way, saying, “I lean on God because I know he’s with us every step of the way ... He’s always there for us, our protection. He runs with us. And he’s always there for us when we need it. I love the support and the guidance.”

She carries that faith off the field as well.

“He does a lot for us,” Gialanella continued. “He’s always there with support and helping me through the hardest times. Even if I’m not confident in myself in school or something, he’s always there.  I always think of him and I pray; and I know it’s gonna be a great day no matter what.”

There have been great days for both girls on the soccer field for most of their lives. Dalia has been a forward all her life after showing a somewhat pushy attitude up front.

“In rec I just bullied people around by the goal,” she said with a laugh. “I used to be physical, so my coach thought I would be a good forward because I was aggressive. From there I just kind of practiced it and here I am.”

When asked for a self-assessment, Dalia feels she has a strong shot and is also good at receiving the ball and quickly challenging defenders once she has it.

“I’m confident in my abilities,” she said. “And with the help of my teammates I get in the good position to get a goal.”

Tiernan feels that like most great scorers, Dalia has a nice hunger up front.

“She really knows how to find the back of the net,” the coach said. “Adriana is a phenomenal player. She is extremely fast, and she knows how to keep control of the ball at her feet. Coach Amanda [Karabin] and I often joke that it’s like there’s glue stuck to the ball when it’s at her feet. The power behind her shot is incredible.”

The coach originally had Gialanella playing forward as well. But when she saw her ability, they dropped the freshman into an offensive midfield slot.

“We could tell Ava had serious talent well within the first few weeks of preseason practices and scrimmages,” Tiernan said. “She has made a big impact on our team. I’m sure having her older sister on the team also helped her become more comfortable. Ava is very smart with the ball and knows the right plays to make at the right times.”

Gialanella is also versatile, as she has been put at numerous positions when necessary this season. But she always enjoys the action near the goal.

“I play center-back for [club team] PDA, but played forward most of my years, and I loved running around scoring goals and being that five-goal-a-game girl,” she said. “I want to get back to that flow once again, but now I think it’s a key partial role in my life to pursue and connect with Adriana.”

Not to mention, connect with her other teammates. It all comes with the position.

“Playing center mid, a lot of times I have my head up and I see the whole field and I see the channels and I have great vision,” Gialanella said. “A lot of the times I have that opportunity to score, but I think that they’re ready to score and I know that’s the smarter play, so I just give them the ball. I’m very happy they’re scoring.

“Our team just works so well together,” she continued. “We’re so confident in each other and so fluid on the field. It brings me a lot of joy. I can’t wait for the next three years with these girls.”