By: Alexa Camerino
WEST CALDWELL- After nearly 40 years of coaching the Caldwell Girls Varsity Soccer team, Mark and Mike Teshkoyan, who attained close to 400 wins, stepped down last spring. New head Coach Kelli Josephsen, the assistant coach for the past two seasons and an alumni of Teshkoyan’s team, now leads the squad along with assistant coach Stephanie Parisi. The two new coaches fight to keep the Caldwell Girls Varsity Soccer traditions alive, while adding their own personal soccer experiences and expertise. The players knew the 2020 season would be different with the new leadership group in place, but other factors have continued to make a significant impact as well. The girls usually take the field for tryouts mid August, but this year’s preseason was pushed back until September 14th due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
With a shortened season and Covid-19 restrictions, the team faces a very unique season. Before each practice, a statement is read by the coaches, which the players must listen to and answer appropriately in order to participate. The most notable rule instituted due to COVID-19 is that players must wear a mask if they are not participating. The team is not allowed to touch each other, high five, or shake hands with opposing players, and everyone must supply their own water. There is no sharing pinnies, forcing players to bring their own to every practice and wash them everyday. Even riding the bus has changed. The team must get their temperatures taken before boarding the bus, masks have to be worn, and seats can not be shared. As a tribute to the retired coaches and to help keep the players healthy, the Caldwell Chiefs now bring buckets to their games, which gives a shout out to the Teshkoyans, as they always sat on buckets at every game. The buckets also give players a socially distanced place to sit and keep their belongings.
With a losing season last year, resulting in a 4-14-2 record, the Caldwell Chiefs started off strong with a 2-1 win against the Bloomfield Bengals, with two goals from junior Angela Nicol and 6 saves by their new varsity goalie, sophomore Shayne Stafford. The next two games were tough, losing 6-4 to Nutley and 4-0 against Glen Ridge. The team knows the upcoming season will be challenging, but sometimes winning isn’t everything. With the team’s hard work and dedication, the players know it will be a successful season regardless of what the scoreboard reads.
Captain Cara Handley shared, “Although the circumstances of this year aren’t the best, the team has made the best of it. Everyone has done what they need to do to stay healthy so we can continue our season. The girls have been working very hard all season and I see a lot of potential in our team. The coaches have been pushing us hard to become the best team we can be and I am very excited for the rest of the season.” Other seniors include captain Ninah Malleo, Sarah Ash, Megan Blankenship, Alexa Camerino, Victoria Rebimbas, and Veronica Wertz. Returning juniors include Caitlin Cetrulo, Annie Gustavsen, Angela Nicol, and Francesca Veltri, along with Kelly Bambrick, Leah Facella, and Kate Layton added to the varsity line up this year.
Returning sophomore Cassidy Brown explained, “This year we have a tight knit team with many positive players who add different strengths to the field.” She is joined by four other sophomores, including returning player Lily Caravela and new additions Shayne Stafford, Lily Torjussen and Mya Rivera–who is also new to JCHS.
With all the changes and restrictions taking place this season, the girls know it is crucial to be positive and grateful for being able to take the field and play the sport they all love.