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West Orange veteran girls soccer coach Sean Devore has a young and talented team to work with led by senior co-captains Tori Rideau-Winds (5) and Kennedy Morgan (22). The Lady Mountaineers compete in the always-rigorous SEC-Amercan Division. (photos courtesy of WOHS)

Young West Orange Girls
Have A Strong Work Ethic

By Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE- There is a good mix of returning varsity performers and new players, including nine sophomores and four freshmen on the varsity which means it’s a young West Orange team this fall, but one which is determined to continue a trend of Lady Mountaineer soccer sides that compete quite favorably with the best in the ultra-strong Super Essex Conference American Division.

"All our players are great kids who continue to work to get better every day,” said seventh-year head coach Sean Devore, whose teams compiled a glittering 50-9-3 record from 2017-2019 with an Essex County Tournament title and a North 1, Group 4 state sectional crown ’19 when the talent-laden team was 19-1-2. “We defend well and our fitness levels are good.

“We are working on our attack and there has been a lot of improvement.”

The 2020 squad was a very respectable 8-4-1 in the abbreviated COVID-19 truncated campaign and there were five starters who graduated last June.
Still, there is certainly plenty of talent still on hand and strong leaders along with very capable veteran players back in tow.

The 2021 edition of Lady Mountaineer boosters are off to a 4-1-1 record, including a season-opening (Sept. 8) 1-1 tie with always-tough Kearny in non-conference action, and a 1-0 setback to perennial Group 1 state title contender Glen Ridge in a match played on Wednesday, June 15.

There have been early season victories over Newark East Side (3-0, Sept. 9), at Nutley (4-3, Sept. 11), vs. Millburn (2-1, Sept. 13) and at Mount St. Dominic, 4-0, Saturday, Sept. 18.

Players to watch include veteran backs and senior co-captains Tori Rideau-Winds and Kennedy Morgan, both of whom are 4-year varsity starters; 3-year varsity players Caitlin Bridgers (midfield), Anna Deer (back) and Sidda Mitchell (midfield) and sophomore Jaiden Schultz (midfield).

Through the first six matches Schultz has led the team with six goals while Deer had two.

Competing in the SEC-American Division is always a day-to-day challenge with top teams such as Montclair, Montclair Kimberley Academy, West Essex and Livingston to battle in regular season action plus the fact there is always the ECT where many of the same challenges will repeat themselves in a tournament setting.

Also, in late October and early November is the North 1, Group 4 state tourney where teams such as West Orange, Montclair and Livingston vie with Kearny and others.

Still, despite its youth and relative inexperience, West Orange promises to be a team to be reckoned with based on a number of factors, including the program’s perennial strength under Devore and his staff, plus a great character makeup of the kids themselves.

“This is one of the most coachable group of players I’ve had in 20 years,” said Devore who took over the head coaching reins in 2015. “We are competing in one of the most difficult leagues and sections in the state, but the girls have really put in the work and are excited to keep going.”

West Orange is at Livingston Tuesday night (Sept. 21) at 7, then at home vs. Bayonne, 4:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24; and at MKA 4 p.m., Monday, Sept. 27, before entertaining West Essex, 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 29.  

NOTES- Devore is joined on his fine coaching staff with the Lady Mountaineers by seventh-year assistants Chris Mallet and Dave Perez (who is the freshman coach) and 19th-year coach Sebastian DePinho, who directs the jayvee squad....Among the West Orange alums excelling at the next level is Natalie Nevins, a sophomore at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia. While the Eagles entered recent action at 0-6-2, Nevins has been a steady preformer at midfield starting seven of the first eight matches for the Atlantic 10 Conference school. She was a 2-time all-state selection at West Orange where she holds career records for assists (89) and points (299).  Her dad, Doug Nevins, who is former collegiate standout at Villanova, is the longtime West Orange boys head soccer coach.                 

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Sean Devore has built a solid program at West Orange in his first seven seasons at the helm, and he has sent top players into the college ranks including Natalie Nevins (10) who starts in the midfield for St. Joseph University. (photos are courtesy of WOHS and St. Joseph University)

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