Columbia HS boys soccer team wins season opener, looks to make progress this season

Columbia High boys soccer assistant coach Max Nicholas, left, and head coach Ryan Muirhead smile after a practice session last month. (Photo by Joe Ragozzino)

MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Junior Alejandro Valenzuela, junior Sebastian Rios-Valdez and sophomore Oliver Clarke each had a goal to lead the Columbia High School boys soccer team to a 3-2 win over Irvington in the season opener on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Senior goalie-captain Will Beane-Rosenberg made six saves and senior Angus Sim made three saves for the Cougars, who are under the direction of head coach Ryan Muirhead.

The Cougars have plenty of new faces, having graduated 19 seniors from last year’s team that finished 12-8 overall and 2-5 in the Super Essex Conference—American Division, which is the top division in the conference.

Columbia has nine seniors this season, along with a good mix of juniors and seniors.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some ups and downs,” Muirhead said. “It’s a learning experience while continuing to build for the future.”

The defense is a strength, led by Beane-Rosenberg, who played in a few games last year, including an unexpected spot start in the state sectional sectional tournament.

The Cougars look to contend in the county and state sectional tournaments as they continue to make progress.

“We’re looking to be in everything,” said Muirhead about the team’s goals in the tournaments.  “I am hoping to see that growth over the course of the season and hopefully it starts to manifest itself by the time we get to the county tournament and state tournament. We got a lot of good teams that we play along the way so that should get us ready.”  

Here are upcoming games:

• Sept. 15: vs. Morris Hills, 3:30 p.m.

• Sept. 18: at Morristown, 4 p.m.

• Sept. 20: vs. Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.