Columbia HS girls’ soccer team will rely on youth and experience

MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Despite graduating 13 players, the Columbia High School girls’ varsity soccer team hopes to improve from last year’s 9-9-1 record behind a good mix of youth and experience.

The Cougars begin the season Sept. 8 against Chatham at DeHart Park at 4 p.m.

The key returning starters for third-year head coach Ashley Corino’s squad are sophomore defender Mimi Joseph, senior defender Olivia Smith, senior midfielder Izzy Egypt, junior midfielder Michelle Aguero, senior midfielder/forward Grace Hut, and junior goalkeeper Hannah Williams.

Joseph made second team and Smith and William were honorable mention on the All-Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division a year ago.

The first-year starters include sophomore forwards Merry Meyer and Ceci Munoz; sophomore defender Lauren Lake, and junior midfielder Gracie-Jo Benn.

Leading the way defensively will be Joseph and Smith.

“Mimi is a second-year varsity player, and will be stepping into a leadership role in the back,” said Corino, citing the defense and Williams in net as the strengths of the team. “Mimi has incredible foot skills and knowledge of the game that will give her the ability to structure the defense from the back. Olivia Smith is a fourth-year varsity player and will be a pivotal part of our defense. Olivia is a natural leader and skilled player. She will be a player we depend on to transition from defense to offense.”

Corino feels good about her team’s chances of winning the SEC-Liberty. “Our goal this year is to win our conference,” the coach said. “We have the talent and ability to beat any team on the field as long as we take control on the field. The  keys are creating chemistry among our players.  We again have a young group of girls matched with some veteran players, so the key will be to get our girls to work together so well they can anticipate each others’ movements.”

The assistant coaches are Meghin Meade (varsity assistant), Elizabeth Savoia (junior varsity coach) and Rocio Lopez (freshman coach).