LIVINGSTON, NJ — Despite having some work to do to strengthen their offense, the members of the Livingston boys soccer team are prepared to do what it takes to stand out in the tough American division of the Super Essex Conference (SEC).
Having lost only a handful of seniors to graduation last year, the Lancers have experience on their side as they begin the 2018 season with seniors Brian Kelly, Brian Melnick, Aria Navi and Franco Burga leading the pack. Starting goaltender Elijah Elster also returns as a junior to lead the Lancers defense, which head coach Roger Rubinetti said is one of the 2018 team’s strengths.
“I think on the defensive side, we’ll be pretty strong as we come back,” said Rubinetti. “We’ve got a lot of speed and athleticism, so that’s going to help us. But going forward, our offense is a question mark because we don’t have any players back from last year that really put the ball in the net frequently.”
Rubinetti explained that although the three returning seniors each had between two and five goals a piece last season, the team doesn’t have “a prolific goal scorer going into this season” like many of the other teams do. However, he said that if these guys can “produce on their senior season,” the Lancers have an opportunity to surprise a lot of people.
“I think we’re going to be very competitive, and I think with Elijah Elster in goal, we’re going to defend well,” said Rubinetti. “It’s just whether our four midfielders and two forwards can, when given the opportunity, put the ball in the back of the net. If they can do that, we’re going to have a good outlook. If they struggle to do that, it’s going to be very difficult in our American conference of the SEC, where we have five Top 20 teams.”
With a season opener against Millburn and a follow-up against Seton Hall Prep, the Lancers’ first two games are “as big as they can get to start off a season,” according to Rubinetti.
The Lancers rallied against Millburn last week, but came short of a win in the away match. They will now take on Seton Hall on Thursday and hope to impress on their home turf.
“We are a blue-collar-type team,” said Rubinetti. “All 11-plus players have to work hard for 80-plus minutes for us to be successful. We don’t have the luxury of taking minutes off out of the game or not being ready to play because if that’s the case, we might find ourselves playing from behind.
“We’ve got to be sharp and ready to go with every single guy pulling their own weight, and if we can do that consistently, then I think some good things will happen for us.”
The home opener will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday on the new Livingston High School turf.