WOGS Kick it up a Notch on Senior Night

WOGS+Kick+it+up+a+Notch+on+Senior+Night

Royson Folas, Managing Editor

On Friday, October 31st, the West Orange Girls Soccer (WOGS) team beat Verona High School by a thumping scoreline of 4-1 on Senior Night. 

Coming off of a thrilling encounter with Nutley, the girls looked to build upon their 3-2 record. With Verona low on confidence following 5-1 and 4-1 defeats to Montclair and Nutley, respectively, and with a large home turnout, WOGS came into this game as clear favorites.

WOGS started the game on the front foot with high possession and intense pressing. The electrifying runs and take-ons by Jaiden Schultz and Emma Mitchell looked to be a constant threat to the Verona backline. Verona heavily relied on counter-attacks to create chances but never really tested Jessica Welcome in goal in the first half.

After 26 minutes of knocking on the door, it was Kennedy Morgan who broke the deadlock after tucking the ball away, courtesy of a Gianna Festino corner kick. Seven minutes later, Kaya Schultz bagged a curling free-kick effort past the Verona keeper to double the lead. At halftime, the girls were up 2-0 and looked comfortable enough to see out the game.

West Orange started the second half in a similar fashion to the first and was rewarded with a 3rd goal of the night from an Anna Deer header. Verona, however, was able to pull one back after a superb free-kick was whipped in and headed home from close range by Grace Madigan. But in the dying moments of the game, Kaya Schultz got her second of the match and restored the three-goal lead. The perfect end to a strong performance from West Orange.

After the game, head coach Sean Devore said, “We played well. It was nice to see the seniors get a good moment and enjoy the game, but I thought we played well in the second half, especially because we started really attacking balls in the final third and after that, you saw we were pretty dangerous.”

When asked if he was satisfied with the overall performance of his team, he said, “So far, yes. We’re still young, still learning a lot. We do have some veterans that have been around for a while and some young kids that are learning spots but overall, it’s been pretty good. We keep getting better moving towards states, and hopefully, we get that far and roll the dice at states.”

In the past few years, the West Orange Girls Soccer program has undergone its most successful reign. In recognition of senior night, I got to sit down with all five seniors as they reflected upon the last four years before moving on to college. 

Captain and University at Buffalo commit Kaya Schultz certainly only has fond memories of the team throughout her years. She claims, “When I came in as a freshman, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to continue playing soccer, and I was considering quitting. But joining it rekindled my love for the sport and really made me realize why I love it so much.”

Forward Liz Duarte is certainly in agreement with Schultz. Despite the many issues this year has thrown at the girls, Duarte believes that this season was her favorite thus far and was grateful to have one final run with her teammates before departing for college.

Captain and UMass Lowell commit Emma Mitchell admits that due to her strong connection to the team, it will be a difficult departure come the end of the season. “Starting off in the beginning, the seniors were girls that I grew up with so it’s always been like a family,” Mitchell says. “I was always so close with the girls and I think it was a great way for me to love high school even more in my first season.”

“I’m going to miss all the girls because I grew up with a lot of them. I know I’m going to have a family in college like this as a soccer team, but it’s going to be different because this is going to be a hard goodbye. Especially since this year’s so different and it’s a shorter season for us.”

In addition to the physical aspect of the game, the girls have all grown mentally and learned valuable life lessons that they carry off the pitch. Midfielder Isabelle Cohen explained how she was “more shy coming into high school when I started playing soccer but being around all the girls has opened me up and allowed me to be more friendly with people.” While Captain and Eastern University commit Gianna Festino has found pride in “playing for [her] community, friends and family,” she learned that “time goes by very fast” and to always “live in the moment.”

The girls take on Glen Ridge at home on Wednesday, October 28th. The Pioneer would like to wish the best of luck to WOGS on the rest of their season and give a special shout out to all the seniors.