GLEN RIDGE, NJ – Glen Ridge High School head varsity boys’ soccer coach Steve Reitberger considers summer competition as an opportunity to “get the cobwebs out,” so to speak.
Playing in the summer allows the players to shake off the rust of the long offseason as they get ready for the high school season in the fall.
Once again, the Ridgers competed in the annual Montclair State University Summer League in the Tuesday Night Division, facing such opponents as Bloomfield, Belleville, Butler, and Montclair’s split squad.
To Reitberger, wins and losses in the summer aren’t the primary focus. Instead, it’s a chance to see what kind of team he will have this fall as the players learn to work with each other, on and off the field, while honing their individual skills.
This season, Reitberger won’t have to worry about depth. Approximately 77 players have signed up for the program on the levels. Despite the large roster, the Ridgers had about eight players show up for each week in the summer, due to various circumstances such as family vacations and other commitments.
Having a large number of players in the program is something that certainly be advantageous.
“Numbers will never hurt you; that’s a good thing,” said Reitberger in a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper last week. “It brings about competition, which is fantastic. We always have upperclassmen returning, whether they’re starters or not. We have a lot of kids; some key positions that are back, which is good.”
The Ridgers are looking to improve on last year’s 8-10-1 record. Despite the losing mark, the team was quite competitive with many close games.
This season, the Ridgers are focused on bolstering their offensive attack, especially after losing two defensive players to graduation – captain Christian Samuels, who played center back, and Kyle Rochester, an outside backer.
“Our emphasis this coming year has to be on scoring goals,” Reitberger said. “We didn’t have a great record last year, but we were (competitive) in every single game. We just have to finish. If we do that, we’ll be in good shape. In saying that, we did lose a couple of very good backs. But I’d like to think we’ll be a very good offensive team. Ball control, quick up the field. And if we do that, then we shouldn’t have to worry too much about the defense, where our highlight is on offense.”
The Ridgers begin official practice this Monday, August 13. The first scrimmage is August 21 at Dover. The season kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Cedar Grove.
Alumni Soccer Game is August 9
The annual Glen Ridge High School Alumni Soccer Game will take place August 9, at George Washington Field, beginning at 6 p.m.
Any former GRHS soccer players, male or female, are invited to participate.