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School lunches: food for thought

Dear Editor,

With the new school year just around the corner, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies, and lunches. Yes, school lunches.

Traditionally, USDA had used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, its own surveys indicate that children consume excessive amounts of animal fat and sugary drinks, to the point where one-third have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Gradually, the tide is turning. The new USDA school lunch guidelines, mandated by President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. Still, food lobbyists have prevailed on Congress to count pizza and French fries as vegetables, and fatty mystery meats and sugary dairy drinks abound.

Parents and students should consider healthy school lunch as a work in progress and insist on healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. Guidance is available at www.fns.usda.gov/ and at www.healthyschoollunches.org, and www.vrg.org/family.

Cory Baker



In our last week story “Playing waiting game” on our front page, the town was Kearny, not Belleville.

Local orthodontist embraced by his peers

Photo by Karen Zautyk/ Dr. Dennis Fry with three of his dental assistants, (from l.) Viviane Ferrassa, Izzy Leite and Millie Omelia.


By Karen Zautyk

When New Jersey Monthly magazine came out with its annual list of the Garden State’s 364 Top Dentists “as chosen by their peers,” it included a name familiar to West Hudson residents.

Among the 60 orthodontics specialists cited in the article in last month’s issue was Dr. Dennis J. Fry, whose office is located at 487 Kearny Ave., between Oakwood and Pavonia avenues.

Fry, a lifelong resident of Kearny, has maintained his practice at the same site for nearly 40 years. Today, his staff includes an associate and five dental assistants. That and a busy waiting room attest to his popularity.

As noted in the magazine, orthodontics deals with “the straightening of teeth using fixed or removable appliances.” In other words, braces.

Posters and artwork decorating the office proclaim, “Braces are beautiful!” Which, these days they are. And maybe invisible, too. It’s a far, far cry from the mouthful of metal that persons of your correspondent’s advanced age recall.

In fact, asked how dentistry has changed over four decades, Fry cited “the materials, and the concentration on aesthetics.”

“More and more people, both children and adults, are looking for a beautiful smile,” he said.

This includes not only teeth straightening but also whitening.

For some people, a visit to the dentist can be anxiety-ridden, but Fry assured us that’s not the case at his practice, since orthodontics is “noninvasive.” And we can testify that the folks we observed in the office, including the youngsters, all seemed pretty relaxed and right at home. You could tell by their bright smiles.

Fry, born and raised in Kearny, graduated from Queen of Peace Grammar School in North Arlington, St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pa., and Fairleigh Dickinson University dental school.

After a two-year stint in the Navy, serving at Parris Island, S.C., Fry returned to Kearny and completed his graduate studies in orthodontics at UMDNJ in Newark.

As his biography notes, “this Kearny boy” is dedicated to his hometown and “has proudly served his community, not only as a professional, but also as a member of the Optimist Club,” which helps “the youth of today realize their dreams.”

Just as Fry realized his. Some of those dreams were dreamt in his childhood home, a house across the street from the Lincoln Theater. The Fry family no longer lives there, though.

“Today,” the doctor said with a chuckle, “it’s a dentist’s office.” For more info on Dr. Fry’s practice, visit www.frybrace.com. Or call 201-991-1253.

Lyndhurst cook sizzles at/on Hell’s Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen TV series finalist, Justin Antiorio, stands in front of Hell’s kitchen restaurant in Newark.


By Jeff Bahr 


The thing that struck me most during my recent meeting with “Hell’s Kitchen” finalist Justin Antiorio was the downright ordinariness of the man. This is in no way a knock. Quite the contrary. Antiorio is without pretense and very down-to- earth – quite refreshing for a young man who has sampled a healthy heaping of TV fame.

I had made the trip to Newark’s Hell’s Kitchen Lounge (how apropos!) last Monday to join the chef/ contestant and his supporters for a “viewing night” of the wildly popular reality show. A feeling of suspense hung in the air. Would Antiorio make it into the next round and move that much closer to the coveted grand prize? Or, would his long journey come to a sudden end? Since the show was taped, Antiorio and his clan already knew the answer, but, much like good poker players they weren’t throwing out any hints to reporters. Drat!

A Lyndhurst resident until his early teens, Antiorio, 29, lived in Franklin Lakes and Hoboken for a spell before returning to Lyndhurst. While his mailing addresses were in occasional flux, his passion for cooking was always rock steady.

According to Antiorio, his love for the cooking craft grew from watching his father – a respected chef in his own right – as he worked his culinary magic in the kitchens of prestigious hotels. During these early days, the boy would often ape his dad’s movements, pretending that he, too, was a chef.

At home, things were much the same. Antiorio and his mother (also a committed “foodie”) would concoct different recipes and dream up different dishes together. If food seems central to this family’s DNA, hang on for the rest of the story. Justin’s older brother also works as a chef!

Not too surprisingly, Antiorio decided to turn his love for food into a career. After completing high school he enrolled at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC where he beefed-up his already prodigious cooking skills. After graduating he apprenticed at some of the city’s most prestigious restaurants before taking a job as a line cook at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange.

But it was Antiorio’s next job as a line cook at the renowned 21 Club in NYC that provided just the right ingredient for his budding career. Through toil and will he became one of the youngest sous chefs in the restaurant’s history. Five years later, he tackled a different challenge when he performed sous chef duties at Sterling Affair – a highend caterer that counts the Rockefellers (yes, those Rockefellers) among its clients.

With these tasty accomplishments under his belt you might expect that it was the ambitious man himself who applied for a spot on the nationally televised “Hell’s Kitchen.” “Not so” according to Antiorio. “My father actually sent my audition (application) out for me,” he explained. “And then it was a couple calls, back and forth, and we went out (to Hollywood) to shoot. It was nerve wracking.”

Antiorio’s “Hell’s Kitchen” odyssey got underway in June when he and 17 other cooking hopefuls entered Chef Ramsay’s kitchen. Since then, the original group has been pared down to five remaining finalists – a battle-tested club of cuisine elites that includes Antiorio. “It’s an amazing accomplishment… my mother is ecstatic!” gushed Antiorio on making it into the top five.

If you’ve never seen the show, here’s the gist. Ramsay’s over-the-top putdowns and scream-fests keep adoring fans transfixed to the screen, while the cooks laboring under his tutelage try their best not to crack.

Antiorio seems to understand Ramsey’s heavyhanded persona and takes it all in stride – a considerable attribute that may just take the Lyndhurst cook all the way to the finish line.

“In the kitchen Chef Ramsay is all business – he’s the boss,” explains Antiorio in a respectful and accepting tone. “But outside, he’s a regular guy.”

If Antiorio should go on to win the competition, he would work for Ramsay as head chef at a Las Vegas restaurant. It would be nothing short of a dream come true for the chef.

For that to happen, however, Antiorio would need to survive the cooking challenge being aired at Hell’s Kitchen restaurant on this evening: “Italian Night.”

As family and friends watched the show on a giant screen while nibbling on victuals supplied by the restaurant, the nail biting began. Not surprisingly, Ramsay was underwhelmed by the performances of the five and let them know it in his ribald way. “We’re cooking like idiots! Get a grip!” he scolded.

As the elimination process placed the white-hot light of scrutiny on this week’s lowest performers, the unlucky pair stepped forward to plead their cases to Ramsay. It would soon spell curtains for one of them. Where was Justin Antiorio during this heart-wrenching phase? Standing relieved beside two other contestants in the safe zone. He had made it into the top four!

This week the foursome will take turns running a kitchen as rigid taskmaster Chef Ramsay looks on. Will Justin Antiorio of Lyndhurst – the local boy done good – survive another round and move ever closer to his dream? That’s up to a higher power and Chef Ramsay to decide. But not necessarily in that order.

Belleville Police Blotter

August 23

• Jesus Carrillo – Gonzalez, 43, of Belleville stopped on Union Terrace at 10:54 p.m. He was found to be driving without a license, was issued a citation and released.

August 22

• Nutley Police officers patrolling Franklin Avenue saw a car lose control and crash into another vehicle at 1:36 a.m. Instead of pulling over at the scene, the car continued down the road into Belleville. Nutley Police stopped the vehicle and issued a sobriety test to the driver. Christina Leon, 25, of Bloomfield was arrested and charged by Belleville authorities with D.W.I., leaving the scene of an accident and careless driving. She was later released.

• A patron at the Food Basics store, 414 Main St., forged a Coinstar receipt in the sum of $89 at 2:19 p.m., and attempted to cash it in, according to police. Jorge Fadell, 53, of New York was arrested and charged with forgery and possession of a forged sales receipt. He was held on $2,500 bail.

August 21

• Police were dispatched to 180 Greylock Pkwy on a disturbance call at 4:18 a.m. When officers arrived, they encountered Juan Placencia, 28, of Belleville at the scene. When asked to leave the area, police say that Placencia pushed the officer. During an attempt to restrain him, a brief struggle ensued but Placencia was ultimately subdued. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on police and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $10,000.

August 20

• Police received a shoplifting complaint at 9:17 p.m. from the Pathmark supermarket, located at 115 Belmont Ave. Store detectives told police that they detained Orlando Christmas, 49, of Newark, after they discovered $140 of unpaid merchandise concealed on his person. He was held on $200 bail. Christmas was also found to carry a $5000 warrant from Newark.

• At 10:10 p.m., East Orange authorities notified Belleville Police that they had taken David Jones, 46, of Newark, into custody for an outstanding $400 Belleville warrant. He was picked up and processed by Belleville Police.

• A burglary was reported at Guys and Dolls pool hall, 524 Washington Ave., at 6:30 a.m. where $500 in cash was found missing from the premises. There was no visible damage to the facility and no signs of forced entry were detected.

August 19

• At 12:13 p.m., police were dispatched to Division Avenue on a breaking and entering call. They arrived to find a garage door “wide open” with objects lined up beside it. Two men in a green truck were seen leaving the scene by witnesses. Police are investigating.

August 18

• A dog attack was reported at Fairway Avenue at 10:25 p.m. When officers arrived on scene, they encountered a 50-year-old woman who had received severe punctures and lacerations to her face after bending over to pet a pit-bull. The woman was transported to Mountainside Hospital, Montclair. The dog’s owner was advised to take the dog to animal services.

- Jeff Bahr

Suspected thief caught in Newark

Photo courtesy Kearny Police Department/Stuart Bradley

Photo courtesy Kearny Police Department/ Noberto Rosario


A local man is behind bars after having kept Kearny Police busy during the last couple of weeks.

Stuart Bradley, 34, of Kearny, is in Hudson County Jail, Kearny, on $110,000 bail on a variety of charges.

Police said the Bradley connection surfaced during and after the week of Aug. 13 when the department received numerous calls from residents observing sleeping in a particular red vehicle in locations where motor vehicle burglaries had occurred.

On Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. police were called to Davis Ave. and Hoyt St. where a car theft was reported in progress. Spotting the telltale red vehicle parked nearby, police began checking backyards and, while doing so, flushed out Bradley who was issued a summons for trespassing and allowed to leave.

At 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 21 police came upon Bradley leaving an alley and carrying a bundle wrapped in sheeting at Paterson St. and Alexander Ave. As they approached, police said Bradley tried to conceal a utility plier on the roof rack of a parked car. Searching the bundle, police said they found several GPS units, cell phones and lottery tickets – the types of items commonly taken from motor vehicles but none of which had yet been reported stolen so Bradley was released.

However, police said detectives subsequently located the owners of two motor vehicles that were parked in the area where they’d found Bradley who reported that their vehicles had been broken into and who identified the items found in the bundle as their belongings. This led police to secure warrants for Bradley’s arrest.

As the investigation was proceeding, police said they were called to Bradley’s residence that same day at 8 a.m. where a family member reported being stabbed by Bradley with a screwdriver. By that time, police said, Bradley had fled the house so additional warrants were drawn up for Bradley’s arrest on charges of aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose.

That night, at 9:30 p.m., police responded to a Chestnut St. location, between Johnston and Woodland Aves., where a resident found someone inside her parked car and tried to pin the intruder inside by holding onto the door, only to be pushed back by the man shoving open the door and fleeing into West Hudson Park. After being shown a photo array of suspects, police said the resident picked out Bradley as the suspected intruder. Additional warrants were prepared charging Bradley with robbery.

On Aug. 23 at 4:30 p.m. police arrested Bradley on Market St. in Newark on the various warrants, including charges of theft from two motor vehicles, and transported him to the county jail where he awaits court action.

In other incidents logged by Kearny Police during the past week:

Police arrested Norberto Rosario, 43, of Kearny, on Aug. 21 at 2 p.m. at a residence near Forest St. and Midland Ave. where police said Rosario appeared to be removing a screen from a door. When confronted by officers, police said Rosario told them he was visiting a friend in the building and was volunteering to repair the screen. But police said the building superintendent told them that the “friend” didn’t live there and that the screen had been intact. Rosario was charged with burglary and possession of a weapon — a folding knife police said they found on the suspect.

Three individuals were arrested in separate drug-related incidents:

Elias Cano, 22, of Kearny, was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia with intent to distribute at 9 p.m. on Aug. 22 after police said they observed two suspected drug transactions on Aug. 6 and Aug. 22 on Highland Ave. Police said a search of Cano’s Highland Ave. residence revealed hundreds of plastic bags of various sizes used for packaging drugs and a scale. He was held at the county jail on $60,000 bail, with no 10% option.

Mark Eager, 21, of Kearny, was arrested Aug. 20 at 9:45 p.m. after police said a search of his Quincy Ave. residence uncovered a large amount of marijuana, several scales, packaging paraphernalia and more than $200 which, police surmise, was the proceeds of drug sales. He was booked on various drug charges, including intent to distribute in connection with two suspected drug transactions on Aug. 15 and Aug. 20. He was held at the county jail on $3,500 bail, no 10% option.

And Matthew McGrath, 24, of Rutherford, was arrested on Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the wake of a motor vehicle stop executed by police at Schuyler and Quincy Aves. Police said McGrath, who was a passenger in the vehicle, had 10 bundles of suspected heroin wrapped in a rubber band, six of which were stamped “Crioc” and four were stamped “Coca Cola.” He was charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia and sent to the county jail.

– Ron Leir

Around Town


• Residents are invited to attend the Clara Maass Medical Center Community Meeting on Sept. 20, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Greifinger Lecture Hall at Clara Maass Medical Center, 1 Clara Maass Drive, Belleville. The meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss the state of health care in our region and the hospital’s ongoing plans for serving the community’s needs.

Reservations are desired. Please call 1-888-724-7123, to reserve a seat.

• St. Peter’s Rosary Confraternity is holding its communion breakfast on Oct. 7, after the 8:30 a.m. Mass at the Chandelier Restaurant, Franklin Avenue, Belleville. Tickets are $22 each and go on sale Sept. 5. The speaker will be Rev. Edwin Leahy. For tickets call the rectory at 973-751-2002.


• Literacy Volunteers of America of Essex and Passaic Counties, in partnership with the Bloomfield Public Library, is seeking volunteers to tutor adults in Basic Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages. Free tutor-training workshop sessions will be offered at the library on Sept. 12, 14, 19, 21 and 28, Oct. 3 from 1-4 p.m. No experience required, just a desire to help others. Contact LVA at 973-566-6200 ext. 217 or lvaessex@verizon. net for more information. The library will present a seminar on restraining orders on Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. in the conference room of the Bloomfield Public Library.

The program will be presented by Meghan K. Gulczynski, Esq., an experienced trial attorney with a background in family law and landlord-tenant law. She began her career as producer on TRU TV (formerly known as COURT TV), where she first became interested in the law. She has clerked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Center for Justice and Democracy where she co-authored “Life Savers: CJ&D’s Guide To Lawsuits That Protect Us All.” A member of the Hudson County Bar Association, she has a B.A. in philosophy from Fordham University and a J.D. from CUNY School of Law. For more information on this event or upcoming programs please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.

• A resume class will be held in the conference room of the library on Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. In this two-hour class, participants will learn how to make an effective resume using common resume templates and wording. The workshop will be led by David Salt, who has an A.S. degree in business from Bergen Community College and a B.S. in business from Ramapo College of N.J. He has a state teacher certification in business and social studies and works as a regular substitute teacher in the Bloomfield Middle School and High School. Registration is required. To register, please call, 973-566-6200, ext. 502.

East Newark

• West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group will provide an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa 201-246-7750, Fatima 973-485- 4236 or email emidura2@ yahoo.com. Together we will fight this disease.


• The West Hudson Family Success Center, 655 Kearny Ave., Suite 103, Kearny, will provide free cooking classes on Thursdays, from 6 to 8 p.m., beginning Sept. 6. Learn all about Superfoods, how to cook them and how to keep more money in your wallet. Classes will include open discussions to address questions and concerns, increased confidence in the kitchen, new tips, tricks and recipes. Please call to reserve 201- 998-0803.

•The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 7, Hudson County, meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Irish American Association, 95 Kearny Ave., Kearny. New members encouraged to attend.

• Registration for the fall 2012 semester of the Kearny Adult School will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 10, 11 and 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the main office of Kearny High School, 336 Devon St. Brochures indicating course offerings are currently in the mail. If you did not receive one, you may pick up a copy at The Observer, Kearny Library or the Kearny Board of Education office at 100 Davis Ave. For more information, call the Kearny Adult School at 201-955-1392.

• The Kearny Rotary Club meets every Wednesday afternoon at 12:15 at La Fiamma Restaurant, 440 Harrison Ave., in Harrison. Business leaders from Harrison are invited to attend to learn about the work that Rotary International accomplishes around the world and in local communities. For more information about the Kearny Rotary Club or to join them for a meeting, call Joe D’Arco at 201-955- 7400 or Jose Fernandez at 201-991-1040.

• The West Hudson Detachment of the Marine Corps League invites all former and active duty Marines and FMF Corpsmen to attend an open house, which will be held every Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. at 286 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. Guests are welcome.


• The library is collecting nonperishable food items for the Lyndhurst Health Department’s Food Pantry. The drop-off box is located inside the library’s back entrance. It will remain there year-round. For questions regarding the Food Pantry, call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500.

• The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission is co-sponsoring a free, NFL-themed “Back to Football” Nature Walk with the Bergen County Audubon Society at DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst, on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 10 a.m. This guided, 90-minute walk will have a special National Football League theme with prizes donated by the NFL.

• To celebrate the opening game of the 2012 season between the Dallas Cowboys and Super Bowl Champion Giants at nearby MetLife Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 5, the NFL is offering a prize to the first person on the walk to see any bird species with the same name as a pro football team: Cardinal, Raven, Falcon, Eagle, Seahawk (osprey), Giant (great) egret and Giant (great) blue heron. All seven team bird species can be seen in DeKorte Park, the home of the NJMC.

Participants will meet inside the one-square mile park’s Meadowlands Environment Center. Participants will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/ BCAS events throughout the year. To RSVP., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201- 230-4983. The Meadowlands Environment Center’s phone number is 201-777-2431.


• Have your photo taken with your library card during the month of September and be featured on Nutley Public Library’s “Get Carded” Facebook Album. People who have their picture taken with their library card can enter a free raffle to win prizes. Don’t Have a Card? Speak to someone at the front desk and sign up today! Prizes will be distributed weekly.

Huge turnover in Blue Tide roster, but same results expected

Harrison to be force in local soccer as always

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Harrison High School boys’ soccer team will be a force to be reckoned with once again this year, despite losing 16 seniors to graduation. From left are assistant coach Mickey Rusek, Jorge Castro, Carlos Yacsabilca, head coach Mike Rusek, Modou Sowe, Leandro Gonzales and assistant coach John Rusek.


By Jim Hague 

Mike Rusek begins his 11th season as the head coach of the Harrison High School boys’ soccer program and it’s probably his biggest challenge to date.

You see, the Blue Tide graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team that posted a 20-4 record and spent the season ranked among the best teams in New Jersey.

“It’s probably the biggest turnover we’ve ever had,” Rusek said. “You develop great connections with the kids and then they’re gone. It really feels like we have a new team.”

But Rusek is encouraged by the new batch of players that have infiltrated his roster.

“We’re pretty happy,” Rusek said. “We have a nice group of young players. I think when you have a new team like this, that’s when you’re really coaching. It’s exciting to us, seeing kids now get their shot and doing well. I think this group was largely overshadowed by a large group of seniors. There’s a lot of competition going on and they’re all pushing each other for playing time. It really gives me a lot of hope. It’s pretty exciting.”

One of those not competing for a position is senior goalkeeper Carlos Gutierrez, who was the team’s starter as a sophomore two years ago, then had to take a backseat to Matt Mucholski last year.

“The chemistry is great with this team already,” Gutierrez said. “It feels good playing for a team like this, because we’re all fighting for one goal, which is winning a championship. We feel we’re just as good, if not better than last year’s team. We’re learning to play together.”

Another key player is junior forward Jose Neto, who scored 12 goals last year, then suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, requiring major surgery.

“We’re all so determined,” Neto said. “We have players saying that we’re going to go further than we did last year. We’re hungry. We think we’re going to be better than last year.”

If there was a problem with the Blue Tide last year, it’s the way they finished. They lost in the Hudson County Tournament semifinals to St. Peter’s Prep, then a week later, they lost to Glen Ridge in the second round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state tournament. It left an empty feeling in Harrison.

But the Blue Tide players are determined to not have a repeat performance from a year ago.

“It gives me a lot of hope coming into this year,” said Rusek, whose team opens up against Leonia Sept. 7. “These kids are being thrown into tough situations right away and they’re handling themselves well.”

Gutierrez will do a lot of the leading from the back line.

“He’s well built,” Rusek said of Gutierrez. “He’s big and strong, has good size for a goalie. I think he’s going to do a good job.”

To capitalize on their overall team speed, Rusek has gone away from the sweeper/ stopper formation and instead will utilize a four-across formation among the defenders.

“It gives us a chance to do more things,” Rusek said. “I like their speed and athleticism.”

Senior David Marinho is a main returnee along the back line, joined by juniors Modou Sowe, Carlos Yacsabilca and Jorge Castro.

Sowe is the player to watch along the back line. He moves like a gazelle from sideline to sideline with ease. He might cover more ground than any Harrison defender ever. He’s definitely a player to watch, a top-flight performer with a lot of pure potential.

A pair of juniors, Kevin Villanueva and Exequiel Paz, headlines the midfielder corps, but the player to watch there is brilliant sophomore Leandro Gonzales, who is extremely versatile.

“He is more of a defensive midfielder, but he’s exciting to watch, because he can do so many things,” Rusek said. “The biggest challenge right now is putting all the pieces together. We really have the makings of a good team.”

Up front, the Blue Tide has some scoring punch, led by Neto, who has recovered nicely from his knee injury, along with senior forward Justin Aponte.

“I think Jose and Justin will combine to score most of our goals,” Rusek said. “They really play well together up front. I think we have a small team, but they really have some nice skill. They can hold the ball well.”

The Blue Tide will face teams like Princeton (Sept. 16) and Wallington (Oct. 5), but for now, there is no showdown with local rival Kearny on the schedule. There hasn’t been a commitment from Red Bull Arena to host another game like last year, so local fans might have to wait until the Hudson County Tournament to see the Blue Tide and Kardinals lock horns.

“We’re pleasantly surprised,” Rusek said. “We’re definitely excited about the start of the year.”

Rusek is also excited to announce a Harrison alumni soccer game that will be held Saturday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. at the famed Harrison Courts.

All soccer players who were born in Harrison and played for either Harrison High, St. Cecelia’s, Essex Catholic are all invited to attend.

“It doesn’t matter what school you went to, as long as you’re from Harrison,” Rusek said.

It should be a fun afternoon for the local old-timers. If you’re interested in playing or just attending, contact Rusek at (201) 618-1316. It should be a great event.

Much like it should be a great season – once again – for the Blue Tide.

Harrison girls’ soccer team looks to improve

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Harrison girls’ soccer team hopes to be vastly improved this season. From left are Viri Diana, Stephanie Garcia, Meribeth Carias, head coach Annemarie Sacco, D.J. Droz and Stephanie Bento.


By Jim Hague

When Annemarie Sacco took over the Harrison High School girls’ soccer program last year, she knew that it would take just a little bit of work.

“We wanted to start building the program in the right direction,” Sacco said. “Harrison had never been really known for its girls’ soccer team, so we wanted the girls to get really interested in the sport. We encouraged them to play in outside leagues, anything to get them more involved.”

Sacco’s message hit home, because several of her players went on to play for club teams in the spring and summer, gaining more and more experience every time they laced up the cleats.

“We’ve definitely made some positive strides,” said Sacco, who guided the Blue Tide to a 7-12 record last year. “The girls love playing soccer. They came back for preseason and they were ready to play. You could tell right away that they had much better skills and a better understanding of the game.”

Sacco is encouraged because her roster is mainly comprised of freshmen and sophomores.

“It’s definitely competitive,” Sacco said. “We had 43 girls come out, so this is the first year that we’re making cuts. Last year, we started with numbers similar to this, but after a week, many of them left. This year, they’ve stayed with us, so it shows that they really have the interest. I think it’s great. We can keep working with these girls and really build the program.”

Leading the way for the Blue Tide is junior goalkeeper Meribeth Carias.

Carias was the starter in goal last year and had a fine campaign.

“She’s doing well there,” Sacco said. “I basically had to force her into the position last year, because she didn’t want to do it. But I knew she could do it. Now, she’s more comfortable and confi dent in goal and she’s going to step up this year as a leader.”

The sweeper is senior D.J. Droz, who played on the junior varsity level last year.

“She’s very quick and that’s the reason why we put her at sweeper,” Sacco said. “I like her speed and aggressive play.”

Junior Viri Diana is the Blue Tide’s stopper.

“She does a great job, because she has so much more passion for the game,” Sacco said. “She plays soccer all year round and it shows. She has great footwork.”

Freshman Eva Kiss, who is the sister of goalkeeper Carias, is another defender.

“She’s fitting in right away,” Sacco said. “She’s quick and she has good skill.”

Senior Stephanie Garcia is another defender. She also makes the step up from the junior varsity.

The Blue Tide’s midfield play is strong, thanks to the efforts of two talented sophomores.

Katherin Merino was a forward last year, but she’s been moved to center midfield this season. Merino was the Blue Tide’s leading scorer last year with 10 goals.

“I felt like we needed more control in the middle of the field, so we moved Katherin there,” Sacco said. “It has worked well.”

Fellow sophomore Chelsea Uribe is another who spent the off-season playing at a higher level.

“She played in the Ironbound League in Newark throughout the spring and summer and it’s really helped her a lot,” Sacco said. “She’s one of our best players.”

A pair of returning seniors, Ashley Castillo and Yulissa Pereyra, are also solid midfielders.

“We have a very good mix in the midfield,” Sacco said.

The forwards are sophomore Carmen Marin, who has made a big improvement in her play. Marin scored two goals last year as a freshman. Sacco believes those numbers will dramatically improve this year.

The other forward is sophomore Cindy Pasos, who didn’t play at all last year, but has made an impact this season.

“She has a great shot and she’s very quick to the ball,” Sacco said.

The Blue Tide opens the season Sept. 7 against Leonia.

“We’re definitely improved,” Sacco said. “We have good chemistry, so that’s a plus. We have created a family feeling with each other and I really think that’s going to help. We have more skilled players than we’ve had. I think we can definitely improve. Let’s see what happens.

Golden Griffin girls’ soccer: Movin’ on up

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Queen of Peace girls’ soccer team has shown a ton of promise in the preseason. Front row, from left, are Michaila Mastrofilippo and Christine Castillo. Back row, from left, are Samantha Martinez, Nikki Sam martino, Lia Rodriguez and head coach Mike Flynn.


By Jim Hague 

A few weeks ago, actor Sherman Hemsley died. He was best known for his portrayal of George Jefferson on the popular CBS sitcom, “The Jeffersons.”

The snappy theme song of that show was entitled, “Movin’ on Up.” It was a song that everyone sang in the 1970s when “The Jeffersons” were mentioned.

Well, that’s the motto that the Queen of Peace girls’ soccer team could use this season, because the Golden Griffins are certainly moving on up.

Queen of Peace suffered through a 5-16 campaign a year ago, a season that almost drove veteran head coach Mike Flynn into retirement after 12 seasons.

But Flynn saw the promise in his young roster and decided to return for lucky season No. 13.

“I’m really excited about them,” Flynn said. “They really have stuck together. They played spring soccer together and have been training every day. We have some good athletes. I can just see the change. There’s no arrogance, but there is a little more confidence. I just want them to keep it going at the same level right now. I still think we’re a work in progress, but I like what I see.”

Flynn said that his players are definitely inspired after losing 16 times last year.

“They’re definitely hungry,” Flynn said. “I think it helped going through last year. Hey, I’m tired of losing as well. It’s getting to the point where it’s personal. It’s been a while since we had a winner. I want to win just like they do.”

The Golden Griffins have endured three straight losing campaigns, something that Flynn was not accustomed to a few years ago, when QP won double digit games in wins every single year.

“I think this is a team that is fit as fiddles,” Flynn said. “They’re very athletic and they’re in great shape. I can’t challenge them enough.”

Flynn will take his team to preseason camp at Dingman’s Ferry, N.Y., this week in preparation for their first game Sept. 10 against Dwight- Englewood.

“We’re still moving people around,” Flynn said. “That’s what camp is for.”

The goalkeeper is junior Lia Rodriguez, who never played soccer before last year, but became the Golden Griffins’ starter in goal. Rodriguez, also a standout basketball player, handled herself well in goal and now she’s an accomplished net minder.

“She said to me the other day, `Coach, I’m starting to like this game,’” Flynn said. “She’s really been amazing. She’s a workhorse. She never misses a practice. She’s the first one there and the last to leave. She’s great to have on the team because of her attitude. She’s become a good goalie and because of her attitude, we made her a captain this year.”

The sweeper is sophomore Michaila Mastrofilippo, one of twin sisters on the team.

“Michaila knows the game and she has a great personality,” Flynn said. “She’s tireless. She didn’t sit out a minute last year and I already told her that she’s not coming out of a game for one minute this year.”

The stopper is a work in progress. It could be sophomore Natalie Negroni, the state 400-meter hurdles champion last spring. It could be softball standout Nikki Sammartino, also a sophomore. Both Negroni (for track) and Sammartino (for softball) were named as Observer Athletes of the Week last spring, so that proves how athletic Flynn’s team is.

The defenders are senior Stephanie Reyes, the lone senior on the roster, and Gabriella Lombardozzi, who is also a sophomore.

“I do like the youth of this team,” Flynn said. “It proves that we have a good future.” Junior Maria Reyes returns to the midfield. She made First Team All-NJIC honors last year.

“She works hard all the time and she always has a smile on her face,” Flynn said.

Michelle Mastrofilippo, the other twin, is a sophomore midfielder.

“She has the same type of energy as her sister,” Flynn said. “I love having both of them.”

Junior Marissa Dundas, who shocked the local soccer circles by scoring six goals in a game last year against North Arlington, only to suffer a separated shoulder in her next game, forcing her to the sidelines for the rest of the season, has returned healthy and is already making an impact.

“She scored three goals in a scrimmage against McNair Academic,” Flynn said. “She’s ready.”

The forwards can be Negroni, who scored five goals last season, or freshman Guilia Gargano, who has shown promise.

Sammartino could end up being a forward as well, along with Christine Castillo.

“We’re still moving people around,” Flynn said. “We’re moving everyone around. It’s why we have camp, so we can see where we are. I’ll tell you, last year, I was ready to pack it in, but now I’m excited about this group. I’m looking at the future and the future looks very bright. We’re setting the goals to be reasonable this year. We want to be competitive. That’s all we’re asking for.”