Overtime Thrillers & Consecutive Wins Set West Orange Boys Soccer Back on Track for Championship Run

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Natalie Nevins, Featured Teacher and Club Corner Editor

After starting off the 2019 season with an 0-4-1 record and having conceded 9 goals in only 5 games, the West Orange Boys Soccer Team was in dire need of a win. With 6 minutes to go in the second overtime against a talented Bloomfield team, the Mountaineers were desperate for a goal. With what appeared to be the season on the line, Senior Captain, Yasin Aly stepped up and got the job done, scoring the game winning goal off a corner from Freshman Mason Bashkoff, as well as his third goal of the night. 

The Mountaineers carried this momentum with them into the next two games as well, first topping off Wildwood Catholic with a final score of 6-2. The boys continued to add to this streak with another overtime win against a solid Newark East Side team. Sophomore forward Ari Rosu scored early in the first overtime off a well placed ball from Senior Captain Yasin Aly. The boys earned their fourth win of the season after beating West Essex 2-1, improving their record to 4-4-1. 

Coming into this season having graduated 23 seniors and returning only one healthy varsity starter, West Orange Boys Soccer coach Doug Nevins knew this year was going to be a bit of a challenge. With a multitude of injuries as well as open spots left behind from graduated starters, young and inexperienced players were forced to fulfill vital roles on the team, and with that being said, have done an impressive job of doing so. 

Among these young and inexperienced players, Nevins noted the key freshman and sophomores who have stepped up this year: Many of the younger players have improved so much in such a short period of time.  Freshman Mason Bashkoff has adjusted to the varsity level very quickly and played very well. Sophomores Ari Rosu, Jeremy Green, Tyrese Folkes, and James Palaguachi all start or play a significant amount of time and have looked great.” 

In addition to the underclassmen, Nevins highlighted key juniors and seniors who took on vitally important roles this season so far: “Juniors Nikolai Matthews, Louie Mignone, Bryce Hannah and Senior Oscar Vasquez have been very good as first year varsity starters. They are all learning as they go and we play in the toughest division in the state of NJ.”

The team’s leaders include Senior Yasin Aly, Junior Julien Carraha, and Junior Justin Reid, along with two injured Juniors, Kalleo Mendes and Connor Hinfey. 

Nevins also pointed out the goals for this season, “At this point our realistic goals are to get back to a .500 record, get a decent seed in counties, and qualify for the state tournament. If we qualify for states and have our full team by then we could be a really scary team to play.”

Despite a rocky start to the season, Nevins and his coaching staff have remained optimistic, and have encouraged the team to stay focused: “It is very easy to stay positive when the kids are working as hard as they are in practice and competing as hard as they are in the games.  We know we are really close to being a good team. With more game experience, the mistakes we have made in these games will slowly start to lessen or even disappear. In 2013 we started 1-4-1 and 3-7-2 and then we went on to win 10 of our next 12 games and won the Group IV State Title as a 15 seed. I am not sure that will happen again this year but if we find a way to sneak in the state tournament we will be a team no one wants to play.”

The team has now earned four wins for the year, two of which being big overtime wins and is slowly coming along as one of the strongest underdogs to make a run for a County, Section and State Championship.