Columbia HS boys’ soccer team tuning up for state tournament

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The Columbia High School boys’ varsity soccer team has a  7-8-1 on the season through Oct. 20, with two highly anticipated North 2, Group 4 opponents on the schedule this week in Dickinson and East Orange.

The Cougars are hoping for a berth in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association North 2, Group 4 tournament and a chance to make one of the juggernauts sweat, said head coach Josh Russotto.

The team has been steadied by sophomore goalie Sam Maidenberg, who has more than 100 saves, five clean sheets and three assists. The defense has been anchored by central defenders Ben Majtyka and captain Ryan Perlee.  Captain Joe Borello, Ethan Pidgeon and Connor Thompson have been shutting down attackers at fullback, Russotto said.

The team’s goal scoring has been spread out over 10 individual players.  Junior forward Joe Dente leads the team with four goals, while junior Rashid Peart and senior captain Van Brantley have three goals apiece. Maidenberg, Peart and Dente have three assists each.

As midfielders, sophomore Julian Lyons, juniors Alex Lauder, Sam Freedson, and Cameron Donald, and Brantley have been taking care of business on both sides of the ball, Russotto said.

The team finished mid-table in the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division having beaten Newark Tech, Newark Central, and Verona and having tied at Montclair Kimberley Academy. Other wins were over Bloomfield, Orange, JP Stevens and Belleville.  

The team has been battling without leading point-scorer Joe Dente (knee sprain) and key defender Josh Anthony (concussion).