BERNARDSVILLE, NJ -- The Bernards High School boys soccer team opens its season Thursday at 4 p.m. at Somerville.

Last year, the Mountaineers finished with a 12-5 record in a season that featured a seven-game winning streak in the middle of the campaign.

Head coach Joe LaSpada is beginning his 40th season with a career record of 515-200. Bernards swept Somerville in two matchups last season, posting shutouts both times. And while LaSpada admits the Mountaineers have some spots to fill because of graduation, junior Elliott Dietrich, the goalie who was minding the net in both of those victories, is one of Bernards' returning players and he will be in goal for the opener.

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Bernards is also anticipating the return of senior defender/midfielder Will Luik, who missed much of 2018 with an injury. Junior forward Gilberto Ferreira scored 10 goals and had four assists as a sophomore. Sophomore midfielder J.J. Zaun and seniors Nelson Ferreira and Carlos Hernandez, each of whom can swing between the front line and midfield, are important returning players for the Mountaineers.

LaSpada will be working three new defenders--Gregory Ferreira, Johss Villasboa and Sean Doran--and midfielder Hernan Godoy-Vera into the rotation this season.

"One of our strengths is our possession of the ball," LaSpada said. "We graduated four starters from last year, so we are young, but are working hard to keep our program at a high level to reach the goals we set out for ourselves this season.

"Our team is primarily freshmen, sophomores and juniors," LaSpada said, "so we are looking to gain more experience from our team."