NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — In a season where youth is prevalent on the West Essex High School boys soccer team, Ryan Kean has been a catalyst for the varsity squad and continues to grow alongside his teammates.

“My focus going into this year was just growing as a player and get a lot of experience so we can grow as a team and be able to beat bigger teams,” said Kean, who has been a leader for the squad.

The striker has tallied a team-leading four goals thus far this season while playing multiple positions in order to best serve the squad.

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“My goal is to try to score the most goals for our team; that would bring us a lot of success,” said Kean. “I think with the positions I’ve played, I’ve done a good job of doing that.”

Kean has taken the place of last season’s leading scorer, Nico Rosamilia, who went onto play at Red Bulls Academy this season. Having such big shoes to fill, Kean has adapted well alongside his teammates to try to keep the team performing well.

“With the loss of [Rosamilia], a lot of us sophomores and juniors had to really step up,” he said. “I feel like I’m trying my best to take that lead role as that man who’s going to help us win a lot of games.”

Knowing he would step into a bigger role in 2019, Kean has worked tirelessly to improve his game. As primarily an offensive threat, he has focused on improving his shooting to take his play to another level.

“I really would like to improve my shooting game,” said Kean. “I feel like if I am able to take shots from outsides the box more, it’s going to create more opportunities for our team to score.”

“We are a very young team, but this team is working really hard,” he said. “We’re very receptive with the coaches, and we’re just looking to grow from experiences, get better together and look toward the future.”

Prior to the team’s recent losing streak, Kean was instrumental in the squad’s come-from-behind victory, 5-4, over Irvington, during which the junior tallied three goals.

“In the Irvington game, we came back from a couple goal deficits and it was a big win for us,” said Kean.

Although the Knights (2-7) are currently struggling to find wins, the team is improving steadily with Kean at the helm. Despite losing five of their last six games, the team’s playmakers are working to turn the season around and the team as a whole continues to grow together.

Kean and his fellow Knights continue to build chemistry and are looking to find their way into more competitive contests.

“The end of the season, the expectation for us is to get wins against this better competition and for us to knock down teams as we grow as a team together,” said Kean.