Highlanders welcome back veteran soccer players

Highlanders varsity lineup filled with familiar faces


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  • PHOTO PROVIDED From left: Senior captains Cameron Murphy (center midfielder), David Pagella (striker) and Lucas Zemser (defender) will be among the veteran athletes to return to the Highlanders soccer program this season.



By JOSH LASHLEY

One thing that can pretty much be counted upon this season is that the West Milford High School boy’s soccer program won’t catch any opponent by surprise on the pitch.

After finishing with an overall record of 8-6-5 in 2016, the Highlanders welcome back a slew of veteran accomplished student-athletes to the varsity lineup. West Milford also placed second in the Big North Conference Independence Division and advanced to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 3 Sectional Tournament last year.

“We want to continue on our recent success, last year was our first winning season in many years,’’ West Milford head coach Ray Ferriola said. ‘We have a very tough schedule. We want to be competitive in every game and compete for the championship of the Big North Conference Independence Division. Last year we finished second to Wayne Hills after finishing in last place the previous year. We want to make a good run in the County Tournament and make the State Tournament again this year, last year was our first appearance in the state tournament in five years.’’

Returning players for the Highlanders include Dave Pagella (senior, Second Team All-Independence in 2016, forward, captain), Cameron Murphy (senior, midfield, captain), Andrew Healy (senior, midfield), Brian Nager (senior, midfield), Lucas Zemser (senior, First Team All-Passaic County in 2016, First Team All-Independence in 2016, defense, captain), Kristian Ricker (senior, defense), Anthony Messina (senior, defense), Shawn Magaaen (senior, defense), Austin McQuade (junior, forward), Mike Ribarczek (junior, midfield), Dan Budd (junior, midfield), Chris Gomez (junior, midfield) and Justin Pinedo (junior, defense).

“Senior captains Lucas Zemser, Cameron Murphy and David Pagella will lead the team,’’ Ferriola said. “They bring a wealth of experience and a great positive outlook to the team. They have led a strong off-season training program to get the team ready for the season.’’

The Highlanders compete in the Independence Division along with Lakeland, Fair Lawn, Passaic Valley, Wayne Valley and Wayne Hills.

“All of the teams in our Division are capable of winning the Division,’’ Ferriola said. “They all bring back depth and are very well coached. Wayne Hills and Fair Lawn are probably bringing back the most returning varsity players and both had very deep JV teams last year, so they are probably the favorites going into the season.’’

West Milford has a home scheduled versus Fair Lawn on Saturday, Sept. 16.

“The team has approached the pre-season with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,’’ Ferriola said. “We are optimistic that the team will continue moving in the positive direction we have been going the past few seasons.’’

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