MIDLAND PARK — The self-described annoying little sister learned everything she needed to know in the back yard.
Her competition was fierce.
Her opponents wouldn’t go easy.
But Jenna Passero believes that playing against her three older siblings, all former varsity stars for Midland Park, molded her into the star player she’s become today.
“It’s been awesome,” Passero said. “I look back and just think how lucky I am. If I was an only child, I would not be how I am today.”
She’s the fourth Passero to play soccer for Midland Park after siblings Kate, John and Michelle combined for 10 seasons of varsity experience.
And she’s the key reason behind the resurrection of Midland Park’s program after three consecutive losing seasons and three consecutive first-round exits in the North 1, Group 1 tournament.
The senior forward has scored eight goals in seven games, fueling the Panthers to a 5-0-2 start.
“She’s the most passionate kid on the field,” coach Allison Kilgallen said. “She loves the game and loves competing. She works extremely hard in and out of season to get herself better.”
Passero, a team captain, has started every game since her freshman season. She’s the go-to player when the Panthers need a goal and the vocal leader when a teammate needs a pep talk. Her coaches and teammates say she’s extremely competitive and gets frustrated when others don’t bring the same work ethic.
“She’s definitely one of the more vocal ones,” senior defender Thalia Ghalam said. “She makes sure to get her point across and is able to say what she wants.”
The Passeros are the Mannings, or the Molinas of Midland Park sports. Every season since 2004, there’s been at least one of them on the varsity roster. Kate and Michelle were both first team all-league selections and led the Panthers to state sectional finals once in their careers.
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