By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
After posting just six wins in all of 2011, Lyndhurst High School head boys’ soccer coach Rob Kost was hoping to have an improved squad in 2012.
It appears as if Kost is getting his wish.
The Golden Bears have not reached the halfway mark of their regular season yet, but have already won four times.
“In a way, I’m happy with having four wins, but we had a couple games where we had a good chance to win,” Kost said. “We were right there, but we didn’t get the result we were looking for. We could easily be 5-3 or even 6-2. But we have to live with where we are. We’re moving forward.”
The Golden Bears struggled mightily last season, before saving their season somewhat with a late-season five-game winning streak.
“That turned everything around,” Kost said. “We were really down for a while. This year, we’re playing really well. We just have to get the ball in the back of the net more. We’re not scoring enough.”
There was a positive sideline to last year’s 6-13-1 record. The Golden Bears qualified for the NJSIAA state playoffs, the first time Lyndhurst went to the postseason in ages.
“We were able to build off that,” Kost said. “Being in the state tournament was huge. We’re now building on what we accomplished, because that was the first time for us. We want to get back to that same level again. We’ll take what we have so far, but it’s a little disappointing, because we could have won more.”
Junior Anthony Cardaci is the Golden Bears’ main man in the nets. The veteran has been starting in goal for the Golden Bears since he was a freshman.
“He’s able to come out of the net and I like that part,” Kost said. “I like that he’s aggressive and willing to take chances. He understands the game well and knows when to come out.”
The sweeper is senior J.P. Manzo, who was once a midfielder, but was moved to sweeper last year and keyed the late-season surge.
“It was an unselfish move for him to go back there and he’s done a fantastic job,” Kost said. “I like his leadership on and off the field. He’s my captain.”
Senior Ozzie Villanueva, one of the most versatile members of the roster, is the stopper, but Villanueva has the ability to play anywhere on the field. Villanueva was a midfielder last season.
The other defenders are seniors Juan Gil and Chris Murphy.
One of the team’s center midfielders is Brazilian import Gabe Viana, who arrived in Lyndhurst just before the start of the season and has made an instant impact, scoring three goals.
“He’s helped us from the very first day,” Kost said of Viana.
Junior Erik Marulanda is another who is seeing time at center midfield.
The other two midfielders are strong players in Erdi Demirbulaki and Giuseppe Pollicino. Both are very skilled players who are good with the ball and are good playmakers.
Demirbulaki has scored three goals already, while Pollicino has the ability to know when to attack, then when to slide back to help defensively.
Senior Mike Lodano has also been seeing time in the midfield. Kost likes his versatility.
“I think this team is deep and we can interchange different positions,” Kost said. “We can change formations for the good of the team.”
Senior Cap Ki Kim, a standout on the Lyndhurst track field during the spring, has returned to his forward position on the soccer pitch.
“He’s such a great player, but the best part about him is that he handles everything with class,” Kost said. “He has such a great character. I truly believe soccer is his best sport.”
Kim has three goals already this season.
Freshman Andrew Cosman has been a pleasant surprise, getting quality playing time right away with the varsity. Cosman also has three goals. Kost had no apprehension promoting Cosman to the varsity right away.
“He’s doing very well and he’s very skilled,” Kost said. “He has the ability and he’s shown that right away. He knows what he has to do with the ball. He’s a big kid who is technically sound. He’s really been all over the field.”
Cosman has shown his talents by scoring two goals in a win over Queen of Peace recently.
The Golden Bears were hurt by the loss of junior Anthony Giaquinto to illness.
“It’s a very big loss for us,” Kost said. “We’re hopeful to get him back.”
The Golden Bears have a tough week this week upcoming with Dwight-Englewood, Harrison and Saddle Brook on the schedule.
“I think we do a good job of possessing the ball, knocking it around,” Kost said. “We have to be able to have that translate into goals. We need to capitalize on our opportunities more.”
But with a 4-4 mark so far, chances are that the Golden Bears are going to make a return trip to the North Jersey Section 2, Group II playoffs next month.