WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange High School varsity boys’ soccer team has been one of the best in the state under 19th-year head coach Doug Nevins. Last season, the Mountaineers finished 12-5-1, reaching the semifinals of both the Essex County Tournament and NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state tournament, losing to Seton Hall Prep and Montclair, respectively.
With a solid group of returning players, the Mountaineers are poised to have another stellar season.
The key returning players are:
Defenders – Seniors Wes Rideau Winds, Facundo Gomez, and Jared Robertson, junior Yasin Aly and sophomore Connor Hinfey
Midfielders – Seniors Roodlenscky Charles, Zach Dong, Musie Weldeghergis, and Allan Becerra.
Forwards – Seniors Tyreek Wray, Edgar Moreno and Manny DePierola, and sophomore Dario Carraha
All of the aforementioned players were starters or played extensively last year.
The team also has promising newcomers. In goal, senior AJ Petrucci decided to play high school this year after playing Academy soccer his first three years, said Nevins. “He is a college goalkeeper for sure,” he added.
In the midfield or forward, senior Brian Merlos, a transfer from St Benedict’s Prep, will be eligible to play this year and is a great attacking player, while at forward, sophomore transfer Kalleo Mendes is also very talented, Nevins said.
The team also has a couple of terrific sophomores who are pushing for time: Julien Carraha, Louis Mignone, and Justin Reid.
Nevins said the team’s strength lies in its balanced attack and senior leadership. “We scored a lot of goals in the preseason but didn’t give up many chances. In fact we gave up only one goal in three scrimmages and scored 12. We also have good depth with so many quality players. Finally we seem to have really good senior leadership.”
Make no mistake, Nevins has high hopes for his team. The goals, said Nevins, are to compete for the Super Essex Conference-American Division title and reach the ECT final and win it. They also want to win the state section title and contend for the Group 4 state championship.
“The keys to success for this year are staying healthy and getting through a really tough schedule,” Nevins said. “Seton Hall Prep, Montclair, Newark East Side, Millburn, Livingston are all terrific teams. If we continue to grow as a team, we could be really really dangerous in counties and states.”
The captains are Charles, Rideau Winds, and AJ Petrucci.
The Mountaineers will visit East Side in the season opener Sept. 6 in a divisional game.
Sept. 6, at East Side, 4 p.m.
Sept. 13, Caldwell, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15, at Belleville, 10 a.m.
Sept. 17, at Millburn, 4 p.m.
Sept. 21, at Livingston, 4 p.m.
Sept. 24, Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.
Sept. 27, Columbia, 4 p.m.
Sept. 28, North Plainfield, 6 p.m.
Oct. 2, at West Essex, 4 p.m.
Oct. 5, Seton Hall Prep, 4 p.m.
Oct. 8, at Montclair, 4 p.m.
Oct. 10, Verona, 4 p.m.
Oct. 15, St. Joseph Regional, 4 p.m.
Oct. 18, Montgomery, 6 p.m.
Oct. 22, at Memorial (West New York), 7 p.m.