WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange High School boys varsity soccer team is gearing up for the 2015 season. They have high hopes of achieving a winning record and have said they are putting their division "on notice" that they are contenders for the state championship.

“The good thing is that this year, we have 18 players returning that have played or started and the team has a lot of experience and depth,” said head coach Doug Nevins.

One thing that is for sure—the WOBS team has spirit.

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The 2013 team came from behind as an underdog to beat odds-on favorites like Montclair and Seton Hall Prep to win the state title. According to the team, this was due, at least in part, to an immense blow dealt to team member Matt Wilson, a senior, who was diagnosed with cancer during the 2013 season. Wilson’s diagnosis and the team camaraderie spawned the kind of comeback one generally sees at the movies.

In 2014, Wilson received the “Courageous Athlete” award at the West Orange Sports Awards ceremony.

“Matt is doing great now,” said Nevins. “He’s even training kids in soccer.”

Going into 2014, the team lost nine seniors including three starters and six varsity players.

Despite that, the team posted a respectable 12-5-1 season, losing in the first round of playoffs.

“We had a young team in 2014,” said Nevins.

This year’s coaching team is comprised of Nevins as head coach; Greg Marchesi, a St. Cloud physical education teacher and former WOHS girls soccer coach; Freddie Christian, as the junior varsity coach; and Jesse Aporta, as the freshman team’s coach.

While the coaches said they are excited about the season, they agree that “academic performance is equally as important.”

“We’re doing great with ASAP (Athletic Students for Academic Proficiency),” said Nevins.

Co-captains Zach Brown (senior – defensive center midfielder); Dan Romaine (senior – forward); and Diego Pedrido (junior - goalie) agreed with Nevins’ assessment and cited the following team goals for the 2015 season:

  1. To be in the top three in the conference;
  2. Do well in tournament play; and
  3. Advance to county finals.

“We have high hopes to make it to the state finals as well,” said Nevins.

WOBS won their first two initial scrimmages, beating Secaucus 6-0 and Northern Highlands 3-0. Their season officially begins on September 10, in an away game against Nutley at 4 p.m.