BELLEVILLE, NJ – Gary Polewka is excited about this year’s Belleville High School varsity boys’ soccer team.
The Bucs head coach says the Bucs are a tight-knit group. With a strong returning nucleus, the Bucs are looking to continue last year’s success when they finished with a strong 13-6-1 record.
The returning players are:
- Luis Diaz (captain) 12th grade Goalie
- Kenny Real (captain) 12th grade Midfield
- Isaac Cortes (captain) 12th grade Defense
- Kevin Manjarrez (captain) 11th grade Midfield
- Emilio Padilla 12th grade Midfield
- Kevin Riera 10th grade Forward
- Lucas Fonseca 11th grade Defense
- Fernando Pesantez 11th grade Goalie
- Bryan Guarquila 11th grade Defense
- Angel Ramos 12th grade Defense
- Adriel Abreu 12th grade Midfield
The players with starting experience are Real, Cortes, Manjarrez, Padilla, Pesantez, Ramos and Abreu.
Cortes is a player who the team will rely on the field. “He will be the core of my defense and a vocal leader on the field,” said Polewka. He has “great vision and all a coach can ask for with his character and determination. He wants his senior year to be the highlight of his time in Belleville.”
Manjarrez in midfield has matured into a remarkable player after scoring 10 goals as a sophomore, said Powelka. “He is looking to compete in the (Super Essex Conference) Liberty Division against improved competition.”
Pesantez in goal is coming off an All-State Honorable Mention season as a sophomore. “The defense has all the confidence in Fernando behind them,” Powelka said. “We are looking for him to become a vocal leader on the field this year. He is someone to watch as some of his saves will make your jaw drop. “
Real, a four-year starter, will be playing more of an offensive role this year in midfield. “Like Isaac, he wants to make this his best year,” Powelka said. He is always willing to speak with the coaching staff about suggestions or personal changes as he reads it on the field. Kenny truly understands the game.”
The newcomers are:
Miguel Garcia 12th grade Defense
Tochio Herrera 12th grade Midfield
Jonathan Sanchez 10th grade Forward
Jonathan Ruiz 9th grade Midfield
Christian Cumbe 10th grade Defense
Anthony Coppiano 12th grade Forward
Marcelo Urgiles 12th grade Defense
Walter Recinos 12th grade Midfield
The Bucs’ strengths include defense and communication.
“We are strong on the defensive end of the ball and very confident in Fernando in goal, although we trust Luis Diaz very much so to come in if need be,” Powelka said. “With new starters and newcomers to the team we have been able to link up well with each other as our communication has been top notch this preseason.”
The Bucs’ expectations are to compete in the SEC-Liberty Division, which is the second highest of the four divisions in the conference. The other teams in the SEC-Liberty are Montclair Kimberley Academy, West Essex, Verona, Central, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield. In addition, the Bucs will face West Orange, Millburn, Montclair and Seton Hall Prep, who are all in the top division of the conference (SEC-American).
Indeed, Powelka likes his team’s chances to achieve another great season.
“There is a good buzz around the program and we are feeling good about the team we have put together,” said Powelka.
The Bucs defeated Linden, 2-1, in double overtime Sept. 4 at home in the season. Manjarrez scored both goals.
The following is the season schedule (home games are at Clearman Field, unless otherwise noted)
Sept 10, Hillside, 4 p.m.
Sept. 13, Central, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15, West Orange, 4 p.m.
Sept 18, at Verona, 4 p.m.
Sept. 21, at Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
Sept. 24, at Millburn, 4 p.m.
Sept. 27, Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29, Nutley, 10 a.m.
Oct. 2, Montclair, 4 p.m.
Oct. 5, Montclair Kimberley, 4 p.m.
Oct. 8, at West Essex, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 , at Seton Hall Prep, 4 p.m.
Oct. 17, Eagle Academy, 4 p.m.
Editor’s note: This article is updated with the result of the season opener against Linden.