NJSIAA Non-Public A Final

Sunday, Nov. 11, 5:30 p.m.

At Kean University

Christian Brothers Academy (18-4) vs. Delbarton (21-0-1)

CBA at a Glance

NJSIAA Group Championships: 6

Record in Group Final: 6-12

Road to the Final: Defeated No. 8 Red Bank Catholic, 6-0; No. 5 Bishop Eustace, 2-0; No. 2 St. Augustine, 4-1

Players to Watch: Jack Gill (9 goals, 12 assists), Dom Bellomo (9 goals, 6 assists), Joe Lozowski (7 goals, 6 assists), Luke Pascarella (12 goals, 3 assists), Jack Hempstead (5 assists)

 

Delbarton at a Glance

NJSIAA Group Championships: 13

Record in Group Final: 13-4-2

Road to the Final: Defeated Oratory, 2-1; Bergen Catholic, 4-0; Seton Hall Prep, 2-2 (4-3 on penalties)

Players to Watch: Brendan McSorely (12 goals, 13 assists), Chris Noriega (3 goals, 16 assists), Ivan Scotto (10 goals, 6 assists), Curt Calov (9 goals, 6 assists), Ryan Ruffo (8 goals, 4 assists), Matt Pease (8 goals, 2 assists), Will Donovan (7 goals, 3 assists)

 

When Dom Bellomo’s left-footed strike in the third minute of last year’s Non-Public A championship game, the Christian Brothers Academy boys soccer team went from upstart team filled with new starters to one that all of a sudden had the pressure on it to win on the state’s biggest stage.

It would take about 50 minutes from Bellomo’s goal for Delbarton to swing that game back in its favor en route to a 4-1 win over the Colts to win the Non-Public A title for the fifth time in six years. That pressure on CBA, however, has not left. The senior-laden Colts now find themselves one win away from capturing a tournament championship that has eluded this particular group, at least since the majority of them became starters just last year.

CBA senior Dom Bellomo. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Seniors Jack Gill and Joe Lozowski were key contributors off the bench on CBA’s 2016 Non-Public A championship team, while the rest of the team has only known mostly heartbreak in tournament play. In addition to falling in the Non-Public A final to Delbarton, last year’s squad was eliminated on penalties in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

This year’s SCT exit was even more excruciating: Ocean scored a golden goal midway through the second overtime period to beat CBA, 1-0, in the championship game after the Colts dominated possession throughout the game.

While that internal pressure to win a championship could weigh on the CBA players, it is always present at Delbarton. The Green Wave have been the state’s most dominant program this decade and will look to not only added sixth state title in seven years to the resume but will also look to close out a second consecutive undefeated season, which would also include one tie for the second straight year as well.

Delbarton lost its chance at a perfect season in the previous round when it needed penalty kicks to eliminate Seton Hall Prep. That game marked the first time since the final game of 2016 – a penalty kick loss to Seton Hall Prep, fittingly enough – in which Delbarton allowed more than one goal. Although he let two slip by during the 100 minutes of play, goalkeeper Kyle Swift made two saves in the shootout to help secure a spot in the final.

Although CBA has not been able to keep up with Delbarton in either of their last two title-game meetings in 2017 and 2015, the Colts have one historic victory over the Green Wave to their credit. CBA beat Delbarton, 1-0, in overtime to complete its perfect 21-0 season in 2011 – a season that also opened with a 1-0 win over Delbarton in September. That was the last time a team in N.J. finished the season without a loss or a tie.

If there is an opponent that presents an opportunity for this group at CBA to erase some of the memories of tournament disappointment, it is this one. A win for the Colts would not only give this group its own legacy but it would go down as one of the great championship triumphs in the history of the program. As great as the 2016 was that went 24-1 and finished No. 1 in the state, those Colts did not have to go through Delbarton.

After nearly slipping up again vs. Seton Hall, Delbarton could be vulnerable, but the Green Wave could also be awake. If CBA does catch Delbarton sleeping, it could wind up a nightmare scenario for the Green Wave and a dream come true for the Colts.

Bold prediction: While CBA and Delbarton are no stranger to the championship game, penalty kick tiebreakers are in the finals for the first time and will shine this weekend.

The Pick: 1-1 tie, Delbarton on penalties.

 

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