Nardi Lita is a scoring machine for Owls
North Jersey Record USA TODAY NETWORK - NEW JERSEY
Nardi Lita doesn’t stop.
Not in games. Not in practice.
The Park Ridge senior who scored a school-record 27 goals last year is known for going full speed with everything he does. It doesn’t seem to matter how many players are around him or how much pressure is on. Lita has made a career out of fooling opponents one highlight at a time, often going through two or three defenders on the way up the field.
He makes the beautiful game just that.
“Sometimes, you just have to sit back and watch,” senior Nick Lister said. “It’s like watching a piece of art. But then I realize I got to get up the field and help him out.”
With Lita’s moves, it’s hard not to watch.
Park Ridge’s two-year captain consistently piles on the points with seven goals and three assists during his team’s 6-0 start. He’s scored in every game, while also leading the Owls to the top of the NJIC Patriot.
“We knew that he was going to be a special player,” coach Ryan Dennis said. “He’s a kid who never stops working. He’s always trying to improve. He’s not only a great talented player individually, but a great teammate. He’s a captain and a leader. He sets a great example for our guys how to defend and not just score goals.”
Park Ridge is hardly a one-man team. Nine starters are back for the Owls, including goalie Nicholas Depasquale and their full defense. The Group 1 school has outstanding size in the back with the Ippolito brothers (Nicholas and Vincent) and throw-in specialist Dustin Glynn. All the pieces are in place for the program’s first sectional title since 2013.
“We’re just excited,” Lita said. “We know this is the year. It’s now or never.”
Lita is actually a first-generation American. His parents fled northern Albania during a period of communism in the 90’s. His cousin also came over from the small European country and taught Lita how to play soccer at a young age. As a freshman, Lita earned a starting spot on the varsity team and never looked back.
“The first day, I’ll never forget,” said Dennis, recalling Lita as an eighth grader. “He came up to me and shook my hand. He just had the eye of a motivated player. When you come into a new program, especially at that age, you never know what you’re going to get. But he was a hungry kid. He set the tone right away.”
Park Ridge proved itself as a contender last Monday with a 3-0 win over Waldwick, the defending division champion. Lita came through with a beautiful goal off a throw-in, calmly settling the ball in the box and ripping a shot.
In many ways, the win validated what the Owl believed they were.
The Warriors had shut out their first five opponents.
“To us, it means the world,” Lita said. “We’ve been working to this moment. We’ve been waiting for this moment all season. To come out strong and win 3-0, shut out a team that hadn’t allowed a goal this season, is perfect.”
“I think he’s underrated,” added Dennis. “I know his (5-foot-7) stature have people a little leery. But he’s an amazing player and a great teammate.”
Park Ridge’s Nardi Lita, far left, scores the second goal of the game in the first half of a regular-season game against Waldwick on Sept. 17.