Cougar Soccer Club wins two titles at opening tournament

The Cougar Boys U11 Premier team celebrates its victory in the Essex Fall Tune-Up Tournament on Sunday, September 12, at Okner Field in Livingston. The players, from left, are Nick Kolodiy, Ryan Spoerel, Jonah Chapman, Jack Schwegel, Stian Romano, Sam Cook, Lucas Alberico, Devan Bachhawat, Peter Stein, Julian Leonard and Luc Garcia Dudek. Missing from photo: Milan Pandya.
The Cougar Boys U12 Premier team celebrates its victory in the Essex Fall Tune-Up Tournament on Sunday, September 12, at Okner Field in Livingston. The players, from left, are Caleb Sims-Mead, kneeling; Sam Lambert, Tilian Duhaubois, Felix Benediktsson, Cooper Barkey, kneeling; Adam Curtiss, Matteo Romano, Jack Jordan, Nate Boatfield Bell, Asher Silverstein, Jack Selwyn, Charlie Young and Nathaniel Goldberg, kneeling.
The Cougar Soccer Club Girls U14 Premier team celebrates after defeating Millburn SC in penalty kicks 0-0, 2-1, on Saturday, Sept. 11, at Heritage Middle School in Livingston.

MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE — The Cougar Soccer Club sent 20 teams comprising more than 260 players to the Essex Fall Tune-Up Tournament this weekend in West Orange and Livingston. Two of the teams brought home championship wins, while five others made it to the finals. All of the teams gained valuable experience as they prepare for the Northern Counties Soccer Association regular season.

Boys U12 Premier

The Boys U12 Premier team smothered its competition en route to the A-level championship, outscoring opponents 22-1. The Cougar defense was led by Charlie Young and Nate Boatfield Bell. 

The Cougars gave up one goal in their opening 7-1 win against Chatham United, but goalkeeper Sam Lambert then posted three straight shutouts: 3-0 over Verona United, 6-0 over West Orange and 6-0 over Livingston.

Boys U11 Premier

The Boys U11 Premier Team tallied three come-from-behind victories as it won the U11 B-level title. In the title game against Livingston, Cougar SC fell behind 1-0 before rallying for three straight goals and a 3-1 victory. The team outscored opponents 15-4, with Sam Cook in goal, en route to a 4-0 weekend. In addition to the championship win over Livingston, Cougar SC defeated West Orange, 6-0; came from behind to beat Chatham United, 3-1; and battled back to beat Montclair, 3-2.

Boys U15 Elite

The Boys U15 Elite team topped Livingston, 3-0, and West Orange, 1-0, but couldn’t get past Chatham United, losing 3-1 and 4-1, to finish second overall. This was the first time this team had played together. Jaxon Nunes, Lucas Campos, Noah Freeman and Udochi Abengowe scored goals for Cougar SC, while Ian Bigelow and James Nolan held strong in goal.

Girls U14 Premier

A stout defense led by Zoe Woods carried the Girls U14 Premier team to the final of the B-level bracket before it fell to Millburn SC, 3-0.

Earlier in the weekend, Cougar SC had beaten Millburn on penalty kicks, 2-1. After Naomi Swanson had shut out Millburn in regulation, she stopped multiple penalty kicks to keep her team alive. Claire Wissel had the winning kick to give Cougar SC the victory.

Cougar SC gave up just one goal in 5-1 and 4-0 wins against PSC Academy and Livingston Fire. Grace Nelson and Vivian Kubany each had multiple goals in the wins.

Boys U13 Elite

The U13 Elite team won a pair of shootouts to post a 2-2 record and finish second in the A-level bracket.

Cougar SC topped Chatham United, 4-3, in penalty kicks after closing regulation time tied 1-1. Cooper Ferguson kicked in the game winner to beat Chatham. 

The boys also went to penalty kicks against the Livingston Rebels after regulation ended in a 2-2 tie. This time, Mateo Garcia-Dudek had the game winner to give Cougar SC a 5-4 penalty-kick triumph. Goalie Rafi Romanowsky kept the team alive in both games.

In the championship game against the Chatham United Hawks, the Cougar SC lost, 3-0.

Girls U11 Premier

The Girls U11 Premier team advanced to the final with a trio of dominating performances — a 7-1 win over Montclair United, a 6-0 win over Millburn SC and a 2-0 win against West Orange. Goalkeeper Ella Chappelear turned in two shutouts with help from a strong team defensive effort. In the final, Cougar SC fell to Livingston 2-0. Dalia Smalls gave an impressive performance in her Cougar debut.

Boys U11 Elite

The Boys U11 Elite squad finished second in the A-level bracket after dropping a tight 1-0 loss to Chatham United. Cougar SC opened the tournament with dominating wins against Verona, 5-1, and Millburn SC, 7-1. They bounced back from the loss to Chatham to defeat Livingston, 7-1, to clinch second place. The team had two players quarantined for the weekend and battled through the four-game schedule with just one substitute.

The Cougar Soccer Club serves more than 550 children from Maplewood and South Orange from ages 3 and up. The Academy program for birth years 2014-2018 begins this weekend. The travel program for birth years 2013 and earlier begins regular season competition on Saturday and Sunday. Home games are at Borden and DeHart parks.

Photos Courtesy of Michael Connolly