UNION TWP. – When Christian Brothers Academy junior Dominic Bellomo slotted a 20-yard volley into the upper side netting in the third minute of Sunday’s NJSIAA Non-Public A championship game, even his teammates were surprised at how quickly they jumped out to a lead against the undefeated, No. 1 team in N.J.

The surprise in the first half turned to shock in the second half when Delbarton responded with a deluge of scoring that capped an undefeated season and denied the Colts a storybook finish.

Sophomore Brendan McSorely scored two of Delbarton’s four second-half goals and the Green Wave pulled away for a 4-1 win over the Colts for their fifth Non-Public A title in six years and 13th overall.\

“In the second half, they just outplayed us,” CBA senior center fullback John Askin said. “They were the better team in the second half, we were the better team in the first. They came out on top, but I’m proud of my guys for getting to this point after nobody thought we’d go anywhere this year. It’s still a great feeling even though we lost.”

Sunday’s game started as well as anyone on the Colts sideline could have hoped for, with CBA’s early pressure resulting in the game’s first goal just 2:41 into the action. Junior Jack Hempstead knocked the ball toward the top of the 18-yard box, when Bellomo controlled it and one-timed a left-footed, outside-foot volley that twisted away from the leaping reach of Delbarton junior keeper Kyle Swift and hit the left side netting to stun the Green Wave early.

Bellomo’s strike was the earliest Delbarton has conceded a goal this season.

“It happened so early, we kind of shocked ourselves,” Askin said. “We were confident we could score on them, but we didn’t think it would come that quickly. Talking to the guys in the back, I just said, ‘There is plenty of game left. We’ve got to keep playing our game’ and we help them to a first-half clean sheet.”

While the Colts took the lead on a perfect strike from their junior midfielder, they took the lead into halftime thanks to their All-American goalkeeper. Senior Shane Keenan made three of his six saves in the first half and dominated the 18-yard box, particularly on balls in the air.

Keenan’s best save came in the 14th minute, when he denied McSorley’s first scoring chance. McSorley positioned himself with his back to the goal for a throw-in and swung a one-timed shot from just outside the six-yard box. Keenan, however, was on his line and made a lunging save to his left to turn back the Green Wave on its best first-half chance.

“I think (Keenan) proved himself to be the keeper I believe he is in that first half alone,” Mulligan said. “He was all over the place. He’s athletic and I don’t think any of those goal’s was Shane Keenan’s fault. He hasn’t let up a soft goal all year. For whatever reason, we had a couple of breakdowns on defense and Delbarton capitalized on them. They’re a quality side, so you can’t make those mistakes.”

Keenan finished the season with 16 shutouts, which set a CBA single-season record.

“He meant everything to us,” Askin said of Keenan. “He was like a magnet back there. Everything we thought we were beat, we’d turn around and there was Shane, making a save.”

It did not take long after the start of the second half for Delbarton to manufacture its best scoring chance and the one that would swing the momentum of the game. After junior Chris Norriega started the play with a free kick just outside the box on the left side, senior John Gerard wound up with the ball on the same side of the field. He centered a cross to the middle of the box, where McSorley settled it with no one around him before punching a shot past Keenan 1:23 into the second half.

Delbarton grabbed the lead for good in the 54th, when junior Will Stroud carried the ball to the touchline and crossed it on the ground. The ball made it across the goal mouth and senior Ethan Fabricant poked it into the far corner for the lead.

“After the second (Delbarton goal), coach kind of pulled me up and we only had three in the back,” Askin said. “The last two goals, you can’t really put that on Shane or the defense because it was just a totally different formation that we’re not used to playing. They just played the better game in the second half – there’s just not much you can do.”

CBA had two chances to score goals on headers – one with the score tied 1-1 and the other with the Green Wave leading 2-1. Colts sophomore Luke Pascarella sprinted onto a low line drive cross from junior Charlie Daly and glanced a header wide of the left post.

In the 57th, Askin battled for a ball to the right of the goal and got it to Hempstead, who sent a cross right to the head of junior Vinnie Cinko with a defender draped over him. Cinko elevated over two defenders to get his head on the ball, but his shot hit the football crossbar.

“We had a couple of opportunities in the second half,” Mulligan said. “We had a couple of headers we couldn’t put in and sometimes that changes the game.”

The Green Wave put the game away in the 61st on a mistake in the back by the CBA defense. Senior Kian Alberto played the ball into the box and McSorley picked off a pass from Hempstead. The sophomore hit a shot off Keenan and into the right side netting.

Senior Liam McSorley added Delbarton’s fourth goal in the 74th minute, which came off a rebound following an Ethan Fabricant shot that hit the right post.

Delbarton’s last goal came with CBA playing a man down after Askin was booked for his second yellow card in the 70th minute.

“John leaves it all on the field every single game,” Mulligan said. “Even when he makes a mistake, I turn to my assistant coaches and say, ‘There’s nobody I’d rather have out there than John Askin.’”

CBA’s third straight trip to the state final was likely its most improbable given when the Colts lost from last year’s 24-1 Non-Public A championship team. Askin was the lone starter back from last year’s team and despite losing 11 starters and five Division I players, the Colts won 20 games while suffering two of their three losses to state powerhouses Delbarton and St. Benedict’s.

“Everyone wants to win that last game go out with a state championship, but I can’t complain,” Askin said. “It’s been a great two years. I won a championship last year, we got to another one this year, but they were clearly the better team. They beat us to every ball and there wasn’t much we could do. You’ve got to tip your cap.”


Box Score

Delbarton 4, CBA 1

Delbarton (21-0-1)044
CBA (20-3-1)101


Goals (Assists): (D) Brendan McSorely (John Gerard) 42’, Ethan Fabricant (Will Stroud) 54’, Brendan McSorely 61’, Liam McSorely (Ethan Fabricant); (CBA) Dominic Bellomo (Jack Hempstead) 3’
Shots: Delbarton, 17-7
Saves: (D) Kyle Swift 2; (CBA) Shane Keenan 6

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