NJSIAA Non-Public A Championship

At Kean University

Christian Brothers Academy (20-2-1) vs. Delbarton (20-0-1)

When it comes to non-public championship games, few teams have thrown their weight around like CBA and Delbarton over the years. The Colts are the defending group champions and have won six championships, while the Green Wave won four straight from 2012 to 2015 and have brought 12 overall group titles in all back to Morristown.

Sunday’s showdown at Kean University for the 2017 title will mark the sixth time the two storied programs have met in the state final, with Delbarton winning in 1996, 2004 and 2015, while CBA defeated the Green Wave in 1998 and 2011. Delbarton’s win two years ago saw the Wave dominate the first half while jumping out to a 2-0 lead before CBA settled in an competed for the final 40 minutes before ultimately falling, 2-0.

CBA senior Shane Keenan. (Photo by Matt Manley)

The last time CBA won a head-to-head championship game against Delbarton was 2011, when the Colts defeated the Wave on a golden goal by Scott Thomsen to cap a perfect 21-0 season.

Like CBA, Delbarton played a stacked scheduled leading up to the championship game and has been dominant while winning all but one of its 21 games. Over those 21 matches, the Green Wave have conceded only nine goals and have not given up more than one in any game.

By comparison, CBA has allowed 13 goals in its 23 games and while that amounts to a higher rate of concession, the Colts have four more shutouts than Delbarton in just two more games (16-12). Take out the four goals scored by St. Benedict’s in a 4-2 CBA loss, and the Colts have allowed nine goals in 22 games – an even better rate than that of Delbarton.

The Green Wave are loaded at every level of the formation, starting with a back line that features Villanova commit Mark Forbes and a pair of Colgate recruits in John Girard and Will Stroud. Midfielder Kian Gonzalez is also headed to Colgate and is likely the team’s greatest offensive threat, although Brendan McSorely leads the Wave with 11 goals.

Dominic Bellomo has emerged as the big-game goal-scorer for CBA after scoring the ice-breaker Thursday against Bishop Eustace for his team-leading eighth goal. Against St. Benedict’s, CBA was able to work the edges and earn throw-ins and free kicks, two of which the Colts capitalized on. In a game that is likely to be highlighted by defenses and keepers, those set pieces could wind up the difference, as they so often do in championship games.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2015 championship game is that there is not always a chance to feel out Delbarton. CBA needed a half to figure out Bishop Eustace before imposing its will in the South Jersey Final on Friday, but the Green Wave may not afford the Colts that opportunity. CBA will have to be on from the opening kick in order to keep the pressure off of the defense and keeper Shane Keenan. While that unit is the strength of the CBA team, asking them to withstand an early onslaught would be asking a lot.

Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, this season has been a smashing success for CBA. The Colts reached the 20-win mark and the state final despite losing 10 starters from a loaded 2016 state championship team and will return a large contingent of players from the Class of 2019 next year. Just as the 2015 team lost to Delbarton and won the championship the next year, this year’s team has the makeup to do the same, at the very least. With two seniors like John Askin and Keenan protecting the goal, however, it’s possible this year’s group has a markedly better shot against another strong Delbarton side.

The Pick: Delbarton 1, CBA 1

 

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