Harrison girls experience growing pains

Sportsview LogoThe Harrison High School girls’ soccer program is in good hands. The Blue Tide has Raphael Viana, a dedicated soccer coach through and through, a former standout goalkeeper with some of Harrison’s best boys’ soccer teams ever.

Despite the fact that the Blue Tide won only six games last year and have been victorious just once in five games this season, Viana personifies dedication to coaching.

Viana has the Harrison girls out on the practice field at the crack of dawn most mornings, conducting practices before school begins. At 6 a.m., you will find the Blue Tide, going through their daily routine, with Viana leading the way. It’s dedication rarely seen on the high school level.

While there may be some unhappy faces out there that early, most of the Blue Tide girls have the same dedication that their coach possesses. It’s a blissful feeling in the morning mist.

Viana understands why the Blue Tide struggled a year ago.

“We didn’t have the same starting lineup all year,” Viana said. “We had girls who weren’t ready to play varsity being asked to play right away. We had our share of injuries. That was a big reason for it. It was a rough year.”

Viana is in his third year as head coach. He knows it’s his program now.

“The girls I have are ones who have been with me and know me,” Viana said. “We have a good starting lineup. If we can stay healthy, we’ll have a good team. We have the talent.”

Viana knows that the Blue Tide has already handled the tough part of their schedule.

“We scheduled hard early, because we expected to be better,” Viana said. “We knew we wanted to have a good season since July and have been working hard to have a good team.”
Leading the way for the Blue Tide is senior goalkeeper Tatiana Costa.

“She’s been starting in goal since she was a sophomore,” Viana said. “It’s her position now. She first jumped into it blind, but now, she’s a legitimate goalie. I think we all feel comfortable with her back there.”

The leader of the defensive unit is senior center back Xiomara Reyes.

“Last year, she had to learn on the fly,” Viana said. “She took her lumps and got better. She’s a big-time player now and not a role player.”

Senior Lucy Pinto is another top defender, also a center back.

“She’s a steady player,” Viana said. “She’s experienced.”

The other defenders are junior Tiffany Danielian and senior Betsaida Gutierrez.

“Gutierrez can run,” Viana said. “She has great speed.”

Juniors Dayana Solano and Jennifer Santos are the team’s center midfielders. Both can handle the ball and distribute it well.

There’s some depth in the midfield with senior Sade Jimenez, senior Marta Silva, freshman Kasey Vasquez and freshman Nicole Santos.

Viana is going to have to rely on the depth there in order to compete. The athleticism has to be there.

So despite the 1-4 record, the Blue Tide will be improved this season.

“Without a doubt, we will have a better year,” Viana said. “I never want to go through another year like last year. We were in a bad place last year. We’re much better right now. I think last year was an experience in soccer and in life. You can learn something from it. We needed to work hard to have a good team. We definitely have put in the work to be a good team.”
Need proof? Just take a drive down Schuyler Avenue past Harrison High before dawn most days. Chances are you’ll see the girls’ soccer team hard at work. There’s no better recipe for success than hard work before most people are even awake.


The Harrison High School girls’ soccer team is one of the hardest working squads around, with practices taking place before school  begins. Front row, from left, are Tiffany Danielian, Jamileth Morales and Dayana Solano. Back row, from left, are Lucy Pinto, Tatiana Costa, Xiomara Reyes, Betsaida Gutierrez and head coach Raphael Viana. Photo by Jim Hague

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”