West Orange HS boys’ soccer team wins sectional championship

WEST ORANGE – For some, winning a state sectional title is a big deal.

For head coach Doug Nevins and his West Orange High School boys’ varsity soccer team, the outstanding achievement has almost become the norm.

“So proud of them; winning six sectional titles in 13 years is incredible,” commented Nevins, in his 16th year at the helm, following the team’s 3-0 victory against Randolph on Friday, Nov. 13, to win their latest sectional title. “Randolph were very good, but it was one of our best performances of the season.”

Pancho Pozzolli, Kamsi Udodi and Dillon Reitberger each scored a goal to lead the top-seeded WOHS Mountaineers over 10th-seeded Randolph in the state North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 tournament championship game at Lincoln Field.

Pozzolli and Andrei Rosu each had an assist and Diego Pedrido had two saves for the Mountaineers, who improved to a 20-1 record. Randolph finished with a 16-5-1 record.

The Mountaineers were scheduled to face North Jersey Section 2 champion Elizabeth in the state Group 4 semifinals on Tuesday night, Nov. 17, at Hopewell Valley. The other semifinal pitted Central Jersey champion Freehold Township against South Jersey champion Washington Township. The state Group 4 championship game will be held Sunday, Nov. 22, at Kean University at 3 p.m.

The Mountaineers, who are ranked No. 4 in the state, are seeking their second state Group 4 title in three years. They won the state title in 2013. WOHS also won the state title in 2006.

“Defensively we were really good and Diego was great as always,” noted Nevins, who was referring to the play from his goalkeeper in the sectional final.

In addition, the coach commended the work put forth from his entire defensive unit.

“The back four of Dillon Reitberger, Andrei Rosu, Ryan Rosa and Russell Hoffer limited them to three chances while Zach Brown marked their best player and shut him out of the game,” he added. “The midfield of Pancho Pozzolli, Bryce Millington and Zach Ames were great plus Nikendy Pierre, Christian Vargas, Matt Bana, and Ricardo Carias were great off the bench.”

At forward, Nevins said his scoring attack also played well.

“Up top, Kamsi Udodi and Dan Romain were excellent, plus Kofi Addo and Dylan Rosa were great off the bench,” added the coach, who wasn’t looking too far ahead. “Now we have to focus on Elizabeth, who are very good.”

In the sectional semifinals, WOHS notched one of its biggest wins of the season when the Mountaineers avenged their lone loss by defeating Super Essex Conference-American Division rival Livingston in the sectional semifinals on Nov. 10 at Lincoln Field. Livingston was the fifth seed.

“It was an incredible game,” he said of the semifinal win. “Livingston is one of the best coached and hardest defenses to crack in the state. We were looking forward to getting another shot at them but realistically we knew it was going to be a really tough game.”

In that contest, Nevins’ team took home a 2-1 victory over the same team that defeated them in the Essex County Tournament semifinals.

“Scoring those two goals in the first half gave us a nice cushion but once they cut it to 2-1 in the second half we hung in there and got the win,” added the coach who talked about a few individual efforts. “We got huge contributions off the bench: Kofi Nana Addo, Nikendy Pierre, Matt Bana, and Dylan Rosa all contributed. The whole team played amazing.”