Key Returning Players Ready For Soccer Challenges This Season

The 3-15 record posted by the Columbia High School boys’ soccer program last season is but a distant memory. The coaches, as well as the student-athletes who comprise the Cougars’ roster already know this to be true and in short order, the opponents who face them on the pitch may also learn that lesson.


The Cougars have trained very hard for the season that awaits them and they are clearly focused upon not only competing, but indeed winning more games than they did in 2014.


Keep in mind that Columbia has several returning veterans in the current lineup and they will be ready for the challenges that they will meet not only in conference play, but in non-conference matches as well.


Key returning players for the Cougars this fall include Bill Baron (senior, center back); Nathaniel Dama-Etienne (senior, holding midfielder); Andrew Thompson (senior, forward); Willy Unterkoefler (senior, center midfielder); Ryan Perlee (junior, center back); and Mateo Green (sophomore, goal keeper).


A pair of newcomers to the varsity roster who may provide a lasting impact for Columbia are Max Maidenberg (senior, striker); and Rashid Peart (sophomore, midfielder). Columbia Head Coach Josh Russotto noted that Maidenberg did not play soccer in 2014, but was on the team as a sophomore.


“Captains Bill Barron, Willy Unterkoefler and Andrew Thompson [will] utilize experience and maturity to guide the team through a tough Super Essex Conference American Division,” Russotto said. “Nathaniel Damas-Etienne [will] lead with consistent and composed performances to bring calm to the midfield. Max Maidenberg [will] lead by example and make players around him better. Mateo Green [will] be a disciplined and vocal leader. Ryan Perlee [will] be a dominant physical force and main communicator of our back line.”


Through hard work and dedication, the Cougars just may achieve some of the lofty goals that they have set for this season.
“Our goals are improved performances in every match and to stay healthy,” Russotto said. “We want to contend for a Division title and advance in the Essex County Tournament and qualify for the (NJSIAA) State Tournament.’’
The Super Essex Conference American Division feature a number of high quality soccer programs and the Cougars will certainly have their work cut out for them on the pitch against all divisional opponents this year.
“Millburn [is a favorite], they won the division last year,” Russotto said. “Livingston won the Essex County Tournament in 2014. Montclair, West Orange, Seton Hall Prep and Newark East Side [will all be strong competitors this season].”

Here is a view of the upcoming regular season schedule for the Columbia boys’ soccer team:
Sept. 10, Millburn, 4 p.m.; Sept. 12, Seton Hall Prep2 p.m.; Sept. 15, at Nutley, 4 p.m.; Sept. 17, Newark Academy, 4 p.m.; Sept. 21, at Livingston, 7 p.m.; Sept. 23, Bloomfield Tech, 4 p.m.;
Sept. 25, Montclair, 7 p.m., at Underhill Field; Sept. 30, at Caldwell, 4 p.m.; Oct. 5, East Side, 4 p.m.; Oct. 7, at Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.; Oct. 10, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 6 p.m.;
Oct. 13, at West Orange, 4 p.m.; Oct. 22, at Newark Tech, 4 p.m., at New Jersey Institute of Technology; Oct. 26, Summit, 4 p.m.; Oct. 31, Elizabeth, 10 a.m.

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