BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Ethan Proper can be counted on for his impressive offensive skill and continues to leave it all on the field for the 9-4-3 Highlanders boys soccer team.

“He has had a terrific start to the season," said Highlanders' assistant coach Kevin Fontana. "He is our leading goal scorer to go along with handful of assists, but even more important to our team he has really stepped forward as a leader this season. He is an extremely hard worker on field whether it’s practice or a game.“

Proper credits the team's winning results with the grit and drive of his teammates. "The team has learned that we can compete with anyone if we work and play with heart," said Proper. "We all fight for and push each other to give as much effort as we can and that has definitely brought success." 

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This was evident in the double overtime UCT quarterfinal thriller against Westfield on Saturday. Although Gov. Livingston suffered a heartbreaking loss to the top 20 state ranked Blue Devils, the Highlanders can hold their heads high knowing they left it all on the field. They came from behind with goals by Zachary Zacieracha and Ben Grimes to send the game to overtime, ending in a 3-0 penalty kick decision.   

Saturday's results came from the team's hunger to win and executing passes and creating space. "With the amount of effort we gave to get that first [second half] goal and switch the momentum to our side, we felt like we could play with anyone."

"My team and I have been looking back at the game and we were all upset at the time that we lost, however we are very proud of each other for the amount of effort we put into that game, especially in the second half," said Proper. "We all feel as if that game showed what we are capable of and gave us a taste of what we can do in the state tournament and for the rest of the season." 

For his continued offensive success as the team's high scorer, Ethan Proper is named  Valairco Heating and Cooling Highlander Athlete of the Week.

The following are comments from Ethan about his past, present and future:

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: What are your goals for the season?

Ethan: My goals for the season are to keep up what I’m doing and play as well as I can. I also would like us as a team to win the conference and go on a run in the state tournament. I believe we can achieve both these goals if we play the way we did against Westfield. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Do you have a favorite game in your high school career to date? 

Ethan: One of my favorite games was our first game of this year where I scored two goals and we won 4-3 over Linden. Another one of my favorite games was last year when we were the 12th seed and beat the 6th seed in the state tournament. It was against South Plainfield and we won 3-2. It’s hard to choose between those two games. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: What is the best advise you have received from any coach?

Ethan: The best advice I’ve gotten from a coach is that no matter what kind of game I am having, I always have to put in as much effort as possible. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Who is your role model and why?

Ethan: My role models are my parents. Both of them push me to do well in school and to be a good person. My dad is also always giving me tips for soccer. Both of my parents are hardworking which has definitely carried over to me considering one of the best aspects of my game is my work rate. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: What do you enjoy doing when you're not training or on the soccer field?

Ethan: Off of the soccer field, two things that I enjoy doing are hanging out with friends and listening to music. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Who is your favorite teacher and what is your favorite subject?

Ethan: Mrs. Bartlett and my favorite subjects are math and history. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Are you looking to play soccer at the collegiate level? 

Ethan: I hope so

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Who is your favorite professional athlete?

Ethan: My favorite professional athlete is Heung-Min Son who is a soccer player on Tottenham Hotspur which is my favorite team. He plays a lot like the way I do and that is one of the reasons why I like him. 

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Valairco Heating & Cooling is the proud sponsor of the Highlander Athlete of the Week. Kevin McHugh, Valairco Owner and President and Berkeley Heights resident, is an alumni of Gov. Livingston High School.

Valairco Heating & Cooling is celebrating 50 years in business. They are family owned and operated and know that keeping your HVAC systems running smoothly is important to the comfort of our customers, their families, and their guests. That is why their family is dedicated to taking care of yours, no matter what the issue may be. Using only top-quality parts to perform a higher-standard of service and all their services are backed by their 50 years of professional experience and 5-year comprehensive warranties. This means that when you call our team at Valairco, you benefit from their total commitment to your complete satisfaction.