Difficult schedule prepares Glen Ridge HS girls’ soccer team

GLEN RIDGE, NJ (updated Tuesday Sept. 20, 1:00 p.m.) – Head coach Oscar Viteri has the highest of expectations for his Glen Ridge High School girls’ varsity soccer team.

His goal for the regular season is all about preparing for the postseason.

“We play against one of the tougher schedules, but playing against these teams prepares us for the Group 1 playoffs,” said Viteri, whose team won three straight before losing to a good Nutley team to move to a 3-2 record through Sept. 19.

The Ridgers lost to Montclair, 3-1, in the opener, but Viteri was proud of his team’s effort.

“Montclair is a good team,” he said. “They are a stacked team and while we didn’t win, we played well. We competed hard and we know we still have some work to do.”

Scoring the team’s lone goal in the loss was senior captain and midfielder Colleen Grady, who cut the deficit to 2-1 with a goal on a penalty kick early in the second half.

“We had some chances after it was 2-1, but just couldn’t get it done,” Viteri said. “It was a tough loss for the kids.”

In defeat, Viteri said starting goalkeeper junior Victoria Woznick recorded eight saves.

“Victoria was solid in net, and overall, we were really strong defensively behind senior captains Galen Lew and Olivia Schwern,” Viteri said.

Along with those players, the Ridger coach said sophomore fullback Haling Prussic also deserved credit for a fine effort against Montclair.

At midfield, senior Merritt Davie plays a role alongside of junior Liz Hauschild and sophomore Jessica Muney.

Up front, the coach relies upon the play of forwards Leslie and Lindsey Jaiyesimi. To note, Leslie is a senior while the other sister is a junior. In addition, freshmen Madison Grady, Samantha Lovit and Tara Feenaghty receive playing time. Junior Daphne Patton also is in the mix, as well as senior Taylor Kulik and junior backup goalie Gabby Sanchez.

Senior forward Katie Liu, another key contributor, hurt her ankle in preseason, but is expected to return within the upcoming weeks.

Viteri said last week was critical in terms of gaining power points that are determined to qualify for the state tournament.

“We are young, but we also have eight seniors with six starting, and if we play like we are capable of, I know this group could go on to achieve much success,” Viteri said.

Following the loss to Montclair, the Ridgers defeated Millburn, 3-2, Sept. 12, in Millburn.

Feenaghty scored on an assist by Meghan Marhan in the first half and Woznick made five saves as the Ridgers defeated West Essex, 1-0, Sept. 14 in North Caldwell.

Grady scored the lone goal and Woznick made 10 saves in the 1-0 win at Mountain Lakes on Sept. 17.

GRHS’ three-game win streak was snapped with a 2-0 loss to undefeated Nutley (4-0-1) on Sept. 19 at Watsessing Park. Woznick made 10 saves.