Glen Ridge, NJ--For the second straight year, the Glen Ridge High boys' soccer program will have a new head coach. But it's a very familiar face in town, where success has followed this man, for over a decade.
Brian Ianni is the new head coach for the boys, succeeding Austin Alvarado, who took a job on the collegiate level after leading the Ridgers to its first state championship, in 2019.
Ianni, a veteran educator in the Glen Ridge school system for 15 years, was also a successful assistant coach for the GR girls soccer program, working with head coach Oscar Viteri. During Ianni's 13 seasons with the girls program, the team won eight straight state sectional crowns and will seek a ninth consecutive title this fall.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity," said Ianni, who grew up in Dumont, and attended Paramus Catholic High, where he played soccer. Later, Ianni was graduated from Iona College.
"Since I teach at the high school, I've known a lot of the kids for a while. It's different, for me, as a coach and a teacher, but the bottom line is working with the kids will be a wonderful opportunity."
Ianni teaches seventh grade social studies and also a class for high school students, in geography. The high school at Glen Ridge is actually for students grades, 7-12.
Ianni also praised the work of Alvarado, who took over last fall, succeeding long-time coach Steve Reitberger.
"Coach Alvarado obviously did an excellent job with the program," said Ianni. "Taking over for a man like Steve is never easy, but Austin did a nice job getting the kids to buy into a new philosophy, and it paid off."
Glen Ridge finished 13-7-1 last season and won its last six games, all in state tournament play. The season was highlighted in the Group 1 final, where the Ridgers defeated Bound Brook, in overtime, 2-1.
Ianni also noted the experience of working with Viteri, who is beginning his 20th season at the helm this fall and has over 300 wins as a NJ high school girls soccer coach.
"Oscar and I have a great relationship," said Ianni. "I learned a lot from him, and the success that program has had over the years speaks for itself. I was proud to be around those kids all these years, and to see them have so much success. I'll miss the girls team, but I'll be cheering them on,"
The numbers certainly look promising for the team in 2020.
"We have about 56 kids signed up," said Ianni. "The kids are excited about the chance to win another championship."
The regular season will not start until early October and the team won't play as many games. While there may be a state tournament, it will probably only go as far as the sectionals.
"Like all coaches, we're hoping to have a season this fall," said Ianni. "We begin practice on Aug 17, will work for a few weeks, then are off for two weeks, before getting back at it in mid September. The kids know what they have to do to be in condition for the season. I know they've been working out on their own this summer. A few of them were playing some club soccer, too."
The coach has not selected team captains, yet, but plans to once official practices begin.
"I'm looking for that work ethic which has long defined the student-athlete at Glen Ridge, and I know these kids will be up to that challenge," said Ianni. "The schedule we play in the Super Essex Conference will prepare us for the state tournament and that's something which has helped the soccer programs in town over the years. We'll be playing in the SEC's Liberty Division this season and there are some really good teams. We'll also have some games against the American Division teams."
Ianni's coaching staff includes returning assistants Will Montes de Oca and Mike DelloRusso.