Boys Soccer – CBA Wins State-Champion Showdown in Official 2019 Opener
GLADSTONE - Not many teams get a do-over on their first game of the season but the defending NJSIAA Non-Public A champion Christian Brothers Academy soccer team, with its eight new starters, got a chance to learn from its mistakes Wednesday at Delran without actually taking a loss.
On Saturday against defending NJSIAA Group IV champion Washington Township, the Colts were the team that scored in the first five minutes and this time, they finished the job in picking up an impressive 2-0 win over the Minutemen to officially open their season.
CBA conceded a goal in the fourth minute of Wednesday's would-be game at Delran but a lighting storm halted the game in the 31st minute and play never resumed.
"I think we were nervous for the first game, especially with so many new starters," senior holding center midfielder Mike Casper said. "Today, I think we were a lot more relaxed. We got an early lead, put some pressure on and just played our game."
On Saturday, the Colts reversed roles scoring first on their opponent when junior Shane Borenius headed in a cross from senior Joe Costa - both of whom are first-year starters - in the fourth minute.
"We are really focused on rebuilding up front because we have so many younger guys playing up there," Borenius said. "We have a lot of experience in the back and in the middle of the field so we just need to finish out chances up top.
"It felt good to get out there and score. It definitely gave me some confidence and showed me that I can play on the varsity level and contribute here."
From there CBA controlled the game from the back and middle of its formation and wound up with a 12-2 advantage in shots and 6-1 edge in shots on goal, with first-year senior goalkeeper A.J. Pinto making an athletic save in the 14th minute on the Minutemen's only clean strike on frame.
In the 62nd, the Colts got a fortunate bounce that resulted in a handball in the box on Washington Township. Senior Luke Pascarella - CBA's leading scorer with 13 goals in 2018 - took the penalty kick and slipped it inside the left bar for his first goal of 2019.
Pinto earned his first shutout with the help of the CBA defense - the most experienced unit within the Colts' structure. Senior center back Connor Anderko and junior left outside back Jack Longo were starters last season, senior center back Noah Santifore saw the field as a junior and right outside back Declan Kelly has distinguished himself as CBA's lone sophomore starter.
"I feel very confident with everybody in the back," Anderko said. "We gel together. Noah and I play on the same club team so we know each other very well. I played wit Longo last year and Declan is new, but he is really good."
Casper is also back from last year's starting lineup to tie the formation together. After scoring one goal last season, Casper has his sights set on increasing his scoring output in his senior year.
"I think I need to work on my goal-scoring and try to get forward more this year," Casper said. "I want to get on the score sheet more to help out team because we are very young."
Saturday continued CBA's rigorous 2019 schedule, which on top of playing in a deep Shore Conference Class A North division, includes remaining out-of-conference games against St. Joseph of Pa., Ocean, St. Benedict's and Seton Hall Prep.
"We are always looking to get to the state final so yeah, there is definitely some pressure," Anderko said. "But the expectations are the same, the style is the same and we are just going to try to keep getting better every day."