Columbia HS boys soccer team returns strong group

MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Despite losing 17 players to graduation, the Columbia High School boys soccer team returns a strong group from last year’s team, which finished with an 11-7 overall record, including winning the Super Essex Conference Liberty Division title. It was the team’s second straight divisional title after winning the SEC Colonial Division in 2020. 

The Cougars’ returning players are:

  • Andersen Jimenez, senior forward.
  • Noah Davis, junior forward.
  • Cyrus Meriweather, senior defender and forward.
  • Malachy Meyer, senior midfielder.
  • Braden Miller, senior midfielder.
  • Jack Niles, senior midfielder.
  • Holden Reeves, senior defender.
  • James Van Varick, senior defender.
  • Alejandro Valenzuela, sophomore defender.
  • Jaiden Wright, senior forward.

The key newcomers are: 

  • Garrett Dyson, senior defender.
  • Carlos Corbacho, senior midfielder.
  • Jon Yourkoski, senior defender.
  • Nico Ranieri, freshman forward.

Head coach Ryan Muirhead likes his team’s experience, which will bode well for more success this season.

“We have a lot of returning players in the defense and midfield, in addition to some solid depth at those positions as well, so I’d expect a lot of our games to be very competitive, despite being in one of the best divisions of high school soccer that New Jersey has to offer,” said Muirhead in an email to the News-Record. “We graduated 17 seniors last year, so we’ve got a lot of new guys on the field, but fortunately a lot of them got some experience with the team last year.”

This season, the Cougars are in the SEC American Division, the top division in the conference. The other teams in the division are Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, Millburn, Montclair, Livingston, West Essex and Newark East Side. SHP, West Orange, Millburn and Montclair have rich traditions of success. 

However, the Cougars are ready for the challenge to compete in that tough division.

“The program has worked very hard the past two seasons, first winning the Colonial Division and then last year winning the Liberty Division,” Muirhead said. “We’ve now gotten to the top division in Essex County, where we feel we belong, and this group now gets to go out there and prove it.”

Columbia will host Newark East Side in the season opener on Friday, Sept. 9, at 4 p.m. at Underhill Field. The Cougars will then host Irvington on Monday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m. and Seton Hall Prep on Sept. 15 at 4 p.m., both at Underhill Field.

2022 CHS boys soccer schedule:

  • Sept. 9: vs. Newark East Side, 4 p.m.
  • Sept. 12: vs. Irvington, 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 15: vs. Seton Hall Prep, 4 p.m.
  • Sept. 17: at Livingston, 10 a.m.
  • Sept. 20: at Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.
  • Sept. 22: vs. Millburn, 4 p.m.
  • Sept. 24: vs. Bloomfield, 10 a.m.
  • Sept. 28: at West Essex, 4 p.m.
  • Sept. 30: vs. Montclair, 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 4: at West Orange, 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 6: at Caldwell, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 17: vs. Morris Hills, 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 21: at Verona, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 24: vs. Montclair Kimberley Academy, 6:45 p.m.
  • Oct. 26: vs. Elizabeth, 4 p.m.