WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange High School varsity girls’ soccer team is poised to make 2018 another championship year, and its 4-1 season opening win over Millburn Sept. 7 points in the right direction.
Nyah Harper scored her first goal of the regular season along with Emma Mitchell, who also chipped in with an assist. Natalie Nevins was the game’s top scorer with two goals and two assists. Gina Saggio scored the lone goal for Millburn.
“The girls fought hard against a tough Millburn team,” said West Orange head coach Sean Devore. “We took some pressure, but handled it well and got off to a quick 2-0 lead. The girls did a nice job overall. Winning the first game is never easy, but in a conference as difficult as ours, all wins will be tough.”
The Mountaineers are playing in the American Division of the Super Essex Conference this season, and their ability to defend in addition to their high level of conditioning will help keep them competitive.
“We’re still working on our team chemistry and ability to work together,” explained Devore, “but we expect improvement by the time the county and state tournaments begin.”
Team captains Nyah Harper, Hannah Villasin, Morgan Clarke and Kaitlin Charles are focused on keeping the energy going from the start of the game to the end. They’re feeling confident but recognize the need to bring their “A” game every time.
This year’s seniors include centerback Harper, outside midi Villasin, midfielder Clarke, forward Charles, back Mya Bembry, Vanessa Letman, and Katherine Urgiles. The four captains have played together since ninth grade and also play club soccer together. While five players graduated in June, seven seniors, seven juniors, eight sophomores, and two freshmen fill out the varsity. The team captured the Liberty Division title in 2017 and boasted a season record of 13-0-5.
Devore cited several athletes as players to watch. In addition to the captains, junior Natalie Nevins (an All-State selection in 2017, second in the state in assists with 27 last season) returns as the top assist leader in New Jersey this year; Mya Bembry, a top NJ basketball player, brings speed and agility and adds a formidable presence on the field; sophomore Kaya Schultz returns in the midfield; sophomore Emma Mitchell returns as one of the team’s top forwards; and junior Kiara Machuca also returns.