Union County soccer teams prepare for kickoff to upcoming season

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UNION / CRANFORD, NJ — The boys soccer season begins in the sweltering heat of August, when players are dreaming of a cold front during the first few days of practice.

Then, in November, if teams are lucky enough to play deep into their sectional state tournaments, they are sometimes found wishing for a bit of a rise in the temperature when it first gets cold out.

That’s the soccer season: starts in really hot weather and ends in really cold.

The first official day of practice to commence the 2022 campaign is now less than three weeks away, Monday, Aug. 22, with teams set to open their seasons on Thursday, Sept. 8.

For the local teams of Union and Cranford high schools, the 2021 season was quite uncommon. The Union Farmers went 5-12, including a 4-8 record in the Watchung Division of the Union County Conference.

Conversely, the Cranford Cougars put together a 14-5-2 season, which saw them capture the UCC’s Mountain Division crown.

As a result, Cranford moved up and replaced Plainfield High School as one of this year’s six squads in the Watchung Division. The other teams are defending champion Elizabeth High School, Union High School, Westfield High School, Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School and Summit High School.

Coached by former Rahway High School and Rutgers Club soccer standout Greg Campbell since 2012, the Cranford Cougars have three scrimmages scheduled before their season opener at home on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. vs. Watchung Division foe Scotch Plains–Fanwood. Cranford’s scrimmages are at Edison High School on Monday, Aug. 29, at 10 a.m.; at Piscataway High School on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at 10 a.m.; and then at home against Madison High School on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 9 a.m.

Union, coached by former Clifton High School standout Lester Lembryk since 2008, also has three scrimmages scheduled before its season opener at Watchung Division opponent Summit on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. The Farmers will play at Clifton on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at a time still to be determined; at William L. Dickinson of Jersey City on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 4:30 p.m.; and at home against Wayne Valley High School on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m.

Union and Cranford will clash in Watchung Division play on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 4 p.m., at Union, and on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m., at Cranford.

Elizabeth won the North 2, Group 4 sectional state championship last year and then fell to Kearny High School in the Group 4 semifinals.

Westfield won the Union County Tournament last year for the 14th time overall and the first time since 2018. It was the first time the Blue Devils won the UCT outright, not shared, since 2016. Westfield defeated archrival Scotch Plains–Fanwood, 1-0, in last year’s final.

Linden captured the UCC’s Valley Division championship last year with a perfect 16-0 league mark. The Tigers went 20-2 overall.

UCT boys soccer championship game scores, 1966-2021
1966: Edison Tech 2, Westfield 1
1967: Union 2, Westfield 1
1968: Edison Tech 1, Pingry 0
1969: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 2, Arthur L. Johnson 1
1970: Pingry 0, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 0 (co-champs)
1971: Governor Livingston 1, Pingry 0
1972: Governor Livingston 1, Arthur L. Johnson 0
1973: Governor Livingston 1, Edison Tech 0
1974: Pingry 1, Westfield 0
1975: Pingry 1, Arthur L. Johnson 0
1976: Summit 1, Pingry 1 (co-champs)
1977: Pingry 2, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 0
1978: Union 2, Linden 0
1979: Governor Livingston 3, Westfield 2
1980: Summit 2, Westfield 2 (co-champs)
1981: Westfield 3, Summit 1
1982: Westfield 8, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 0
1983: Pingry 2, Westfield 1
1984: Westfield 4, New Providence 1
1985: Westfield 3, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 2
1986: Scotch Plains 1, Westfield 0
1987: Scotch Plains 2, Westfield 1
1988: Westfield 2, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1
1989: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1, Westfield 0 (shootout)
1990: Union 3, Elizabeth 0
1991: Westfield 1, Cranford 0
1992: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 2, Westfield 1
1993: Westfield 2, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1
1994: Governor Livingston 2, Westfield 1
1995: Arthur L. Johnson 2, Union 1
1996: Westfield 1, Rahway 0
1997: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 3, Elizabeth 0
1998: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 2, Cranford 0
1999: Union 2, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 0
2000: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 2, Arthur L. Johnson 0
2001: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1, Arthur L. Johnson 0
2002: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1, Cranford 0
2003: Linden 1, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 0
2004: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1, Union 0
2005: Elizabeth 4, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 3
2006: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 4, Union 2
2007: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 4, Elizabeth 0
2008: Elizabeth 1, Summit 0
2009: Cranford 1, Westfield 0
2010: Westfield 2, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1 (OT)
2011: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1, Union 0
2012: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 5, Governor Livingston 2
2013: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 4, Elizabeth 2
2014: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 2, Westfield 1
2015: Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1, Elizabeth 0 (OT)
2016: Westfield 2 Scotch Plains–Fanwood 1
2017: Westfield 1, Elizabeth 1 (co-champs)
2018: Westfield 1, Union 1 (co-champs)
2019: Elizabeth 2, Summit 2 (co-champs)
2020: No game; Westfield and Scotch Plains–Fanwood reached final
2021: Westfield 1, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 0

Championships 1966-2021
Scotch Plains–Fanwood: 19; 1 shared
Westfield: 14; 3 shared
Pingry: 6; 2 shared
Governor Livingston: 5
Union: 5; 1 shared
Elizabeth: 6, includes Edison Tech 2; 2 shared
Summit: 3, all shared
Arthur L. Johnson: 1
Linden: 1
Cranford: 1

Championship game appearances 1966-2021:
Scotch Plains–Fanwood: 31
Westfield: 26
Elizabeth: 12; includes Edison Tech 3
Union: 9
Pingry: 8
Governor Livingston: 6
Arthur L. Johnson: 6
Summit: 5
Cranford: 4
Linden: 2

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