GLEN RIDGE, NJ – For the past 16 seasons that Oscar Viteri has been the head coach, the Glen Ridge High School girls’ varsity soccer team arguably has been among the best in the Super Essex Conference and Essex County, as well as in the state on the Group 1 level.
This year’s Ridgers may have a few new faces. But when it comes time for the county and state tournaments, Viteri feels confident his team will hit its stride.
The Ridgers have been NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament champions in each of the past five seasons. They finished runner-up in the NJSIAA Group 1 state tournament in each of the past two seasons, each time losing to nemesis Shore Regional in the final. In fact, the Ridgers have played Shore in the NJSIAA Group 1 final four times in five seasons, with GRHS winning in 2012 and the two teams playing to a tie in 2013.
GRHS opens the regular season Sept. 7 at Science in Newark.
In the Ridgers’ first preseason game on August 28 at Carteret Park, Viteri said his team played scrappy against West Essex, while making a few mistakes. He said he would have liked to have the Ridgers play more possession-style and string together more passes. But he added that he knows those things will happen over time, saying he expects the team to “fine-tune the little things and correct them as they go.”
Senior Lindsey Jaiyesimi and sophomore Tara Feenaghty are returnees who will lead the midfield. Feenaghty had an impressive freshman season a year ago.
Freshman Sydney Mansfield has shown much talent and will serve as an offensive threat up top.
Liz Hauschild, a senior, was a forward last year, but will move to the backline this season. Hauschild last season notched a hat trick to lead GRHS in the win over Belvidere in the Section 2, Group 1 final.
The Ridgers also will return senior starting goalie Victoria Wozniak. Senior backup goalie Gabby Sanchez returns as well.
Indeed, Viteri can’t wait to see this team down the stretch of the season.
“They got to gain confidence. But down the road, late October, I think we can make a run,” Viteri said.
The captains of the team are Jaiyesimi, Wozniak, Sanchez and Hauschild.
Photos by Steve Ellmore. GRHS vs. West Essex scrimmage, at Carteret Park, August 28.