WEST ORANGE, NJ – When a coach has a true passion for a particular sport, it stands to reason that a team might raise its level of play.
At Golda Och, a small religious school in West Orange, that’s been the case over the last decade or so. With Juan Pintado at the helm in soccer, Golda Och has become more and more competitive on the pitch. The team finished with a 6-6 record this fall, and just missed out on gaining a share of a division title in the Super Essex Conference. The team was 6-2 in league play.
“If we had beaten West Side in our last game, we would have gained a share of first place in our division,” said Pintado, who hails from Uruguay, a soccer-crazy country. “But we lost, 3-2, and had to settle for a second place tie with Barringer.”
The highlight during Pintado’s tenure at the school came in 2014 when the squad went 11-5 and won a division title.
“My goal each year that I’ve been here, is just to have the kids be competitive on the field,” said Pintado, whose main job is working for the recreation department in West Orange. “I think we’ve been able to do that for the most part.
“I’m retiring as head coach, but I think the program will continue to do well. We’re only losing a few seniors, so the new coach will have a good nucleus for the 2019 campaign.”
The kids at Golda Och go to the school for religious reasons, and they want to concentrate on their studies. But sports is still important and the youngsters always want to do the best they can.
This year’s team was sparked by junior forward Assaf Arieh, who had 17 goals and eight assists. He was quick and displayed a strong shot.
In the midfield, a position that Pintado played, Golda Och spotlighted juniors Joshua Berger and Jared Berelowitz. Berger had two goals and six assists, while Berlowitz came through with one goal and four assists.
“Joshua had the ability to run all day,” commented Pintado, who enjoyed watching the 2018 World Cup in Russia. “Jared was a very technical player, and had the ability to make quality passes.”
On defense, junior Ethan Landau was a solid performer for the team. He had one goal and two assists, and did a lot to help our freshman netminder Nathan Scherzer.
“Nathan was a great surprise for us,” said the coach. “He had very good reflexes, and always seemed to come up with clutch saves to help keep us in contention.”
Pintado acknowledges the school doesn’t get all that much attention in the game because of the strength of town neighbors Seton Hall Prep and West Orange High School. But the kids involved in the program still enjoy competing for the school, whether they get attention from people or not.
“Soccer is a great game and the sport has really grown in the United States,” said Pintado. “The U.S. women have already won a World Cup, so hopefully down the road that will also happen on the men’s side.”
SOCCER NOTES – The first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930 and Pintado says the sport is as popular as ever in his native land…
Arieh isn’t a big kid, but he’s as tough as anyone on the pitch.