Boys Soccer – 2020 SSN Team of the Year: Christian Brothers Academy
Every high school soccer player in New Jersey had to wait an additional month to start their season in 2020 and the Christian Brothers Academy soccer team had their offseason drag on for an additional nine days - eight of which required them to isolate from one another.
That meant no games or no official practices while the CBA campus was shut down and classes were all conducted remotely due to COVID-19 protocol. While soccer finally returned and raged on in the Garden State and throughout the Shore, one of the state's more prestigious programs was stuck at home.
When the Colts finally joined the 2020 season, they more than made up for the lost time.
Despite returning only three starters from a 2019 side that finished 13-4-3 and No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, this year's CBA squad authored an unbeaten season that included victories over some of the Shore's best programs and an NJSIAA sectional championship. Their pristine 2020 resume earns the Colts the first ever Shore Sports Network Team of the Year trophy in boys soccer - presented to the top team in the Shore Conference from the past season and to be displayed at the winning school until the start of next season.
The abbreviated 2020 schedule eliminated the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time since its inception in 1984, meaning neither CBA nor any other Shore team could prove its supremacy within the conference via a shared tournament. That meant every team that fancied itself a contender for the No. 1 ranking in the area had to prove it each and every game and the body of work CBA put together in that pursuit wound up a step ahead of the field - even though the Colts started the season more than a week behind.
As always, the Shore Conference Class A North division was as good as any in the conference, particularly at the top of the table. Because of the lost time at the beginning of the season and a later cancellation of a game vs. Marlboro, CBA played only 10 of 14 divisional matches but did enough in those 10 to prove itself the best side in the field.
The Colts twice beat Freehold Township - the reigning Shore Conference Tournament champions and the preseason No. 1 team heading into 2020 - and outscored the Patriots by a 4-1 aggregate score.
The other powerhouse squad in A North during 2020 was Long Branch and although their scheduled pair of games was postponed due to CBA's shutdown, the teams squeezed in one of the two meetings on a Saturday morning in Lincroft. CBA left no doubt about its A North supremacy, turning back the Green Wave, 3-0.
The early cancellations afforded CBA an chance to schedule two games outside of the A North division and the Colts made the most of opportunity. They opened their season with a 3-0 win over a Rumson-Fair Haven team that spent time late in the season in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and figures to be in a similar position next year, when the Bulldogs return three top offensive producers.
The second of the two inter-divisional meetings was the more noteworthy of the two and, perhaps, CBA's biggest win of the year. The Colts made the short trip to Holmdel High School on Nov. 7 and in defeating the host team, 3-1, ended Holmdel's 65-game unbeaten streak that dated back to early October of 2017.
After breaking Holmdel's streak, CBA recharged for the NJSIAA Tournament with a pair of games against Manalapan, including a surprising 0-0 draw against the winless Braves (0-10-1) in the first of the two games. That was CBA's lone blemish of the season and it came on a day in which senior captain, center midfielder and Monmouth University commit Brett Sieg was sidelined with a foot injury he sustained early in the second half of the win over Holmdel.
CBA bounced back by beating Manalapan to close their regular season and winning two more games to complete its postseason run. The Colts edged Non-Public rival St. Joseph of Metuchen, 1-0, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey East Non-Public semifinals, than rolled to a 4-1 win over St. Rose in the championship.
CBA's unbeaten 2020 season was spearheaded by a defense that allowed just four goals in 14 games over the course of the season - the best mark in the Shore Conference by a wide margin this season and the lowest single-season total in program history. The all-senior trio of Jack Longo, Ryan Mojares and Ethan Beyer turned into the strength of the team, with Longo leading the way as a third-year starter.
The defense kept the opposition away from CBA's senior goalkeeper tandem of Michael Jakub and Thomas Manner, but both first-year varsity keepers were up to the task when the ball came their way. The two combined on a Shore-best 10 shutouts and Manners twice saved penalty kicks, which came in wins over Long Branch and Middletown South.
Sieg remained a steady presence in the midfield as one of the three returning starters and tallied four goals and five assists in the process.
Senior Shane Borenius, meanwhile, was the team's most dynamic player and in his second year starting at outside midfielder, he led CBA in scoring with nine goals. He scored goals in wins over Rumson-Fair Haven and Long Branch, then starred in victories over Holmdel (a goal and an assist), St. Joseph (the lone goal of a 1-0) win and St. Rose (two goals in a 4-1 win).
Graydon Santos was the other major contributing senior in the CBA midfield and juniors Declan Kelly, Jake Homowitz and Marco Mastriani were both integral in their first season as varsity midfielders, with Kelly providing versatility as an outside defender as well.
Not only were CBA's forwards productive in 2020, but the group will remain largely intact in 2021. Junior Dylan Cupo finished second on the team with seven goals, including two in the win over Long Branch and one in the 3-1 win over Holmdel.
Sophomore Will Thygeson scored three goals on the season - two of which opened the scoring in two of CBA's biggest wins. He scored the first goal in a 3-1 win over Freehold Township and tallied a goal and two assists in the championship win over St. Rose.
Jack D'Eletta was CBA's other sophomore forward and he also delivered two huge goals during the season. His goal at Freehold Township was the difference in a 1-0 Colts win that capped a season sweep of the Patriots and he also scored the third goal in the win at Holmdel.
Senior Tommy Glynn also saw time up top off the bench and his first career goal was the official game-winner in the first win over Freehold Township.
The 2020 season continues CBA's successful stretch under head coach Tom Mulligan. Mulligan was a player at CBA when the program began to take off as an area powerhouse and he succeeded his former coach and 500-game winner Dan Keane in 2016. In his five seasons at the helm, CBA is 89-12-5 with two overall NJSIAA Non-Public A championships (2016, 2018), four sectional championships (2016-2018, 2020), one Shore Conference Tournament title (2016) and one No. 1 finish in the state (2016).
There was no Shore Conference Tournament this year, but 36 years after CBA won the first ever SCT championship, the Colts closed their 2020 as the first ever Shore Sports Network Team of the Year.
Christian Brothers Academy
2020 Shore Sports Network Team of the Year
Record: 13-0-1 (9-0-1 in Class A North)
Head Coach: Tom Mulligan
Assistants: Dave Santos, Jim Keady, Rory Fitzgerald, A.J. Mokes
Seniors: Spencer Barc, Charlie Bertodatti, Ethan Beyer, Shane Borenius, Tommy Glynn, Michael Jakub, Blake Jaronko, Jack Longo, Thomas Manners, Ryan Mojares, Graydon Santos, Brett Sieg, Aiden Szuwalski
Juniors: Nick Bartlewitz, Luke Cousins, Dylan Cupo, Will Geiger, Ryan Hayes, Jake Homowitz, Declan Kelly, Tiarnan King, Marco Mastriani, Jack McGagh, John Sciascia, Aiden Sisco
Sophomores: Jack D'Eletto, Will Thygeson