Kearny-Harrison rivalry resumes on Thursday night in Hudson semifinals

Yusufu Jaite

As the weather starts to cool and the tournament play begins, it’s only appropriate that one of the state’s great rivalries is set to resume and heat up the local sports landscape.

For the fifth season in a row, the Harrison and Kearny boys soccer teams will square off in the Hudson County Tournament. Only this time, it will be in the semifinals as the top-seeded and undefeated Kardinals will host the fourth-seeded Blue Tide on Thursday. Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. at Kearny High School.

It will be the first time the century-long neighboring rivals meet since last year’s HCT final at Red Bull Arena, which Kearny won, 2-1, in overtime, in front of more than 4,000 fans. This will be the ninth tournament meeting between the two since a true Hudson County Tournament was instituted in 2009 with the Kardinals winning five of the eight prior matchups.

In the quarterfinals, Kearny made quick work of Hoboken, defeating the Redwings, 6-1, behind a hat trick from sophomore Jeckson Rivera on Saturday afternoon. The Kardinals’ unbeaten streak is now at an incredible 30 games, having gone 27-0-3 since its last loss.

A few hours later, Harrison’s Yusufu Jaite scored what proved to be the game’s only goal in the 70th minute to give the Blue Tide a 1-0 victory over previously undefeated Memorial in their quarterfinal matchup. Since suffering an opening night loss to Wallington, Harrison has won eight consecutive games.

On the girls side, 12-time defending champion Kearny broke out of its slump with a 10-0 victory over Dickinson. Sophomore Olivia Covello led the way with three goals and an assist, while Paige Raefski and Emily Horvaht added two goals apiece. Kearny will host fifth-seeded Hoboken in the semifinals, on Thursday at 5 p.m., with the Kearny-Harrison boys soccer game following afterwards.

 Essex County seeding released

Seedings for the Essex County boys’ and girls’ soccer tournaments were released last week.

On the boys side, Bloomfield was awarded the 16th seed and will host 17th-seeded Caldwell in the preliminary round on Tuesday, Oct. 11. With a victory, the Bengals would play top-seeded Seton Hall Prep, the state’s No. 1 ranked team. Also on Oct. 11, Belleville, the 18th seed, will play at 15th-seeded Irvington with the winner facing second-seeded and undefeated Newark East Side. Nutley, which is seeded 22nd, defeated Abundant Life, 6-1, in a play-in game this past Saturday and will now face 11th-seeded Glen Ridge.

Preliminary round action in the girls tournament began on Monday after The Observer went to press. Bloomfield, the 13th seed, was hosting 20th-seeded Payne Tech, 15th-seeded Nutley was home to face 18th-seeded Science Park and 17th-seeded Belleville traveled to 16th-seeded Columbia. The winners will play in the first round on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Kearny/Harrison County Tournament history

2009: Harrison 1, Kearny 0 (Final)

2013: Harrison 1, Kearny 0 (Semifinals)

2014: Kearny 2, Harrison 1 (Semifinals, 2OT)

2015: Kearny 3, Harrison 0 (Semifinals)

2017: Kearny 3, Harrison 2 (Semifinals)

2018: Harrison 4, Kearny 3 (Semifinals)

2019: Kearny 1, Harrison 0 (Semifinals)

2021: Kearny 2, Harrison 1 (Final, OT)

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)