WEST ORANGE, NJ – The school year is quickly approaching and along with it soccer season. The Boys’ Soccer team has been preparing this offseason in order to improve on last season’s 13-7-2 record and defend their Group 4 state title.
The Mountaineers will open up the season at home on Friday September 5 against Nutley. The team’s players worked hard in the offseason improving their game, competing in two different summer leagues. The team placed third in the Montclair State University league and an all-sophomore team competed in the Kearny league and gained experience against varsity level competition.
Coach Doug Nevins, who is returning for his 15th year as head soccer coach, knew that he would have a young team and has tried to develop his players so they can gain experience.
“We knew coming into the season the biggest issue would be inexperience. We only returned three starters and another two or three guys that contributed last year. So we have a lot of young players that are really good but just haven’t played at this level.”
In order to help his players gain experience, Nevins scheduled scrimmages against top competition in the state including Northern Highlands and Scotch Plains. Northern Highlands is one of last year’s Group 3 co-champions, returning most of its starters, and according to Nevins “they’re going to be one of the top 5 teams in the state” and Scotch Plains is tenth in the national preseason FAB 50 rankings. By scrimmaging against tough competition, Nevins feels he can get his players up to speed and show them what the highest level of competition is like, while seeing what he and his coaching staff need to work on.
While no captains have been named yet, the team has been receiving leadership from a trio of seniors, Jon Aristizabal, Bryan Brufau, and Rory Stello. Aristizabal is a starting midfielder that will play holding mid or centerback and Brufau returns to the West Orange midfield after starting his freshman and sophomore years, but missing his junior year with a torn meniscus in his knee. Nevins called Brufau a player that can “create for himself or for his teammates.” Stello has been a key player since his sophomore year and looks to do the same this year.
The formations that the team will use will change depending on the opponent, says Coach Nevins and it will be his job to put the 16 or 17 players he will rotate in positions where he can get the most out of them. Some players to look out for are junior forward Kamsi Udodi, who scored four goals in the state playoffs, junior midfielder Zach Brown, and sophomore midfielder Christian “Pancho” Pozzolli.
Nevins, who will be assisted by Coach Greg Marchesi, goalkeepers Coach Freddy Christian, and assistant Coach Jesse Aporta, is excited about the team this year. “I’m really happy and I’m really excited. It’s going to be a slow work in progress. I think at the beginning of the year we will be pretty good, towards the middle we will be good, and at the end we will be really good.” The Newark Star-Ledger has the Mountaineers ranked 9th in its preseason top 20.
Sept. 5, Nutley
Sept. 8, at Newark Academy
Sept. 11, Livingston
Sept. 16, Montclair
Sept. 22, at Irvington
Sept. 25, at Caldwell
Sept. 30, at East Side
Oct. 2, Montclair Kimberley Academy
Oct. 3, Newark Tech, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6, Seton Hall Prep
Oct. 9, at Millburn
Oct. 14, at Columbia
Oct. 16, West Essex
All times at 4 p.m., unless otherwise noted.