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Over the course of his athletic career at Christian Brothers Academy, Will Thygeson has made it pretty clear he loves playing in championship games.

That is why it pained him so much to watch his team from the sideline in the final three rounds of the Shore Conference Tournament, but while he was lamenting his inability to play in the late rounds of the conference tournament due to a hamstring injury, he was doing everything else he could to help his team win its 12th SCT championship.

Thygeson also knew he would have a chance to get back on the field to make a run at one more championship.

Despite missing three postseason games in the conference tournament, Thygeson made a profound impact on one of the greatest seasons in program history – a body of work that earned him the 2022 Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Award.

CBA senior Will Thygeson. (Photo: Tom Smith |
CBA senior Will Thygeson. (Photo: Tom Smith |

Despite missing three matches with the ailing hamstring, Thygeson still turned in the best statistical season of his career. While CBA dispersed its scoring while playing against a high-level schedule, Thygeson was still one of 15 Shore Conference players to eclipse 30 points, with the 11th-highest point total in the conference (31), tied for 21st in goals (11) and tied for seventh in assists (9).

The stats, however, are only a small part of Thygeson’s 2022 story. During the regular season, Thygeson posted seven goals and eight assists and when Thygeson scored, it usually meant CBA was dominating. He went off for two goals and an assist in a 5-0 rout of Middletown South and posted another brace with an assist in a 5-0 trouncing of Freehold Boro – the only two Class A North games CBA played that were decided by more than one goal.

Thygeson also contributed to multiple goals in routs against teams that had big seasons in 2022. He posted a goal and two assists in two notable one-sided CBA wins – first in a 4-1 win over eventual NJSIAA Non-Public B champion Gill St. Bernard’s and again in a 4-0 win over Central Jersey Group IV runner-up Monroe. The senior winger also went for a goal and an assist in CBA’s 8-0 rout of perennial New York power Chaminade.

In CBA’s first tournament game – a round-of-16 battle with Southern Regional in the Shore Conference Tournament opening round – Thygeson looked poised for a huge close to his senior season. He scored an early equalizer in a wild, 3-2, overtime win over the Rams, but it came at a cost. Thygeson sustained his hamstring injury in the overtime win and was not able to take the field for CBA’s next game.

Thygeson continued to hold out hope that he could play in the Shore Conference Tournament as CBA sought to defend its 2021 title, but his head coach, Tom Mulligan, was not about to risk Thygeson’s longer-term health an allowed his less-than-100-percent senior to play through the injury.

On board with the decision to rest up for the state tournament – a period that gave Thygeson 18 days off from the Southern win and his team’s first NJSIAA Playoff game – the senior took on the role of assistant coach and enthusiastic hype-man for his teammates during CBA’s second straight run to a Shore Conference Tournament championship.

"Will is a special kid in the program," Mulligan said after CBA’s sectional championship win over St. Peter’s Prep. "I can't say enough about Will Thygeson. When he was out with his hamstring injury, he was like a fourth coach on the team and on the bench. He showed up at the final of a jayvee tournament the Shore Conference runs and he was running lines and helping out. He does anything and everything to help this program and, in the end, he's a winner."

Once he was again able perform on the field, Thygeson was ready to make an impact. He scored or assisted a goal in each of CBA’s four matches in the Non-Public A Tournament, starting with a goal in CBA’s 4-0 win over St. John Vianney, which marked Thygeson’s return to action.

Teammate Jack D’Eletto carried the Colts to a win over a Pingry squad that entered the sectional semifinals with just one loss, with Thygeson assisting one of D’Eletto’s two goals in CBA’s 2-0 win.

In the sectional championship match against St. Peter’s Prep, CBA’s defense kept the Marauders’ attack award from goalkeeper Miles Gallagher while the attack continued to generate chances, but the Colts entered the final 15 minutes of regulation locked in a scoreless draw with the visitors. Thygeson changed that in the 68th minute when the left-footed senior buried a right-footed shot to the far post for the winning goal in a 1-0 CBA win.

"It was tough being out with an injury in the Shore Conference Tournament, but my guys looked at me and they told me they had my back," Thygeson said after the win. "I put my complete faith in them that they would be able to go out and win the Shore Conference Tournament, which they did.

"Coming into states, I knew I had to make up for lost time. I knew it was going to be an easy transition back into the lineup because of how great our chemistry is."

Will Thygeson (center) raises the NJSIAA Non--Public A championships trophy while surrounded by CBA teammates. (Photo: Matt Manley)
Will Thygeson (center) raises the NJSIAA Non--Public A championships trophy while surrounded by CBA teammates. (Photo: Matt Manley)

Through the sectional final, Thygeson had already made up for his SCT absence with a championship-winning performance, but his career-defining moment was still to come. CBA took on Seton Hall Prep in the Non-Public A championship game at Franklin High School – a rematch of the 2021 Non-Public A final in which Seton Hall shutout CBA, 2-0, to finish the season No. 1 in the state.

The Pirates again entered the state final as the No. 1 team in New Jersey and held CBA scoreless into the final five minutes of regulation, but CBA’s defense was up to the task and also kept the defending champions off the board up to that point.

In the 77th minute, Seton Hall was the first team to blink, and that is all it takes for Thygeson to capitalize. With standout defender Alex Oladapo on his hip, Thygeson ran down a long pass from junior teammate Dimitry Corba, fended off Oladapo and slipped the game-winning goal inside the far-right post.

CBA’s 1-0 win made the 2022 team the fourth Colts team ever to win both the Shore Conference Tournament and Non-Public A championships, joining the 21-0 team from 2011 and the decorated squads from 1998 and 2016. It also landed CBA the No. 1 ranking in the state to end the season for the first time since 2016.

Thygeson’s championship performance was nothing new for the two-sport standout. During his CBA soccer career, Thygeson played in three NJSIAA sectional finals, two Shore Conference Tournament finals and two NJSIAA Non-Public A finals and scored at least one goal in all but one of those games – the only one CBA lost. In six championship games during his three-year varsity career, Thygeson scored six goals and led the Colts to a 5-1 record in those matches.

Those championship heroics also carried over to the ice. As a junior last winter, Thygeson scored a goal in CBA’s 3-0 win over Delbarton in the state championship game.

Thygeson will play one more season for the Colts’ ice hockey team, but he has already cemented his CBA legacy as a winner with his three-year soccer career. He is set to graduate in the spring of 2023 and continue his soccer career at Colgate University.

"I have said it time and time again: Will is a winner," Mulligan said. "The bigger the moment, the bigger Will Thygeson plays. He is a winner, he is going to be so, so missed by this program, but the impression he has left will be everlasting."


LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

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