LIVINGSTON- Consistently strong girls soccer teams are a staple at Livingston and even a change in head coaches last fall couldn’t form even a slight ripple in the positive proceedings as the Lady Lancers put together a fine 14-3-2 record.
And, even with strong programs such as Montclair and West Orange to contend with in the Super Essex Conference, Essex County Tournament and North 1, Group 4 state play, the team clad in Green and White was in each and every match while winning more than its fair share.
The soon-to-be-unveiled ‘modified’ 2020 fall campaign should see another very solid Livingston side even while bidding adieu to major talent that moved on to college and the fact that Montclair returns the bulk of its ECT championship squad and others on the schedule such as Nutley (season opener at home, Friday, Oct. 2nd), Glen Ridge, West Essex and West Orange are also talent laden.
“It’s no secret that we graduated some very important players, but if there was a silver lining to last year’s season-ending injuries to players such as Savannah Belcuore and Alexis Scherago it was that younger players were given a shot to prove themselves and many took advantage of that opportunity,” said second-year head coach Brian Carr, who was previously an 8-year assistant to 16-year head coach Paul Raiz before the latter resigned after the 2018 season in order to spend more time with his family.
"Looking at this year’s team, the coaching staff likes where we are at. We have strong players returning and we have some exciting young players as well.
“The team is beginning to gel and they are adapting well to the shortened pre-season. It’s a new group with a lot of new faces, but the girls are getting along well and the seniors have done a great job of taking the younger players under their wing to make sure they feel comfortable.”
Traversing the always-difficult SEC will not be easy, but it never is. Still, one can rest assured that the Lady Lancers will be very much in the hunt as the division title becomes paramount with no ECT or regular N1G4 state tourney as a regional post-season playoff format will take precedence in this COVID-19-affected season.
“There are a lot of great teams in our conference,” said Carr. “Last year there were three teams (from the SEC) in the top 11 in New Jersey. There is no doubt that Montclair is the team to beat. They are experienced and have some incredible players. We played them twice last year and felt good about both our performances (including a 1-1 tie decided on penalty kicks in the ECT final).
“As always, we will be excited to play them and if it turns out to be anything like the past, it should make for a fun game to watch.
“West Orange is another strong team. They’ve matched up well against us in the last couple of seasons, and despite losing a couple of important players, they still have a strong and experienced core group returning.”
West Orange edged Livingston, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of last fall’s N1G4 tourney.