Fall sports season preview: Cherry Hill East boys’ soccer

The Cougars hope playoff success, spot in the Coaches’ Tournament in the cards for 2016.

Cherry Hill East senior Evan Saidel is expected to have a bigger role for the Cougars in the 2016 season.

Cherry Hill East boys’ soccer 2016 season preview

Last season: Cherry Hill East improved from a four-win season in 2014, going 5–10–1 in 2015. After a slow start, the Cougars played strong in mid-October, winning four of six games in one stretch. The team qualified for the South Jersey Group IV playoffs, but were eliminated by eventual state champion Washington Twp., 3–0.

Returning Players: Head coach Mike Melograna believes senior goalkeeper Colin O’Donnell is one of the best at his position in South Jersey. He describes the third-year starter as very athletic and a key to the Cougars success this year. Other third-year starters include senior midfielder Nick Reganata and senior forward Robert Sparrow. Senior forward Tomasso Cavallo brings great ball skills and a European flare to the offense. Other key returners are senior Andre Lochbihler and junior Tim Welsch.

New Players: A number of rising juniors and seniors will get an opportunity to win starting sports on this years team. The group includes rising seniors Jose Andino, Jake Cerota and Evan Saidel, all of whom have varsity experience entering this season.

Key games: Cherry Hill East’s schedule is stacked to begin the season, with 10 games alone in the month of September. The Cougars will open against last year’s South Jersey Group IV finalist Eastern Regional High School on Sept. 8 and then will have a tough, non-conference game against Haddonfield Memorial High School at home on Sept. 10. Other tough early season games include a home game against Cherokee High School on Sept. 14 and a trip to defending state champion Washington Twp. on Sept. 22.

Season outlook: Cherry Hill East’s goal is to build on last season’s playoff appearance. Melograna believes the team’s schedule will allow them to succeed and show promise. The Cougars hope to be invited to the South Jersey Coaches Tournament for the first time since 2012 and win in the postseason this year.