Boys Soccer – South Jersey Non-Public A Final Preview
NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A Championship
Thursday, Nov. 9
At Holmdel High School, 7:30 p.m.
No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy (19-2-1) vs. No. 2 Bishop Eustace (16-3-2)
While no season is supposed to be a full-on rebuild at CBA, this season could have resembled one given the Colts returned just one starter from last year's 24-1 team that finished No. 1 in N.J. Instead, that lone returnee - senior center back John Askin - has emerged as one of the Shore's top players, All-American keeper Shane Keenan joined the team from the academy ranks and the Colts have developed a balanced attack in the field in front of of them.
How balanced has CBA's scoring been this season? Fourteen different players have scored a goal for CBA, but none have scored more than seven goals and none have more than five assists. Juniors Dominic Bellomo and Charlie Daly each have seven goals to lead the Colts this season, while junior Jack Gill, Joe Lozowski and sophomore Luke Pascarella have contributed six each.
The secret to CBA's success has been its back four and Keenan, which have led the Colts to a school record 15 shutouts already this year. Seven of the 13 goals CBA has allowed this season came in its two losses - one a 4-2 loss to the No. 1 team in the nation, St. Benedict's, and the other a 3-1 loss to Freehold Township. In the 19 wins and one tie - which ended up being a shootout loss to Toms River South in the Shore Conference Tournament - Keenan and the Colts have conceded just six goals, good for an average of 0.3 goals per game. Even just taking out the St. Benedict's result, the Colts are surrendering 0.43 goals per game.
While CBA does not have a goal-scorer with more than seven for the season, Bishop Eustace has three players that exceed that total. Seniors Matt Pattison and Andrew Pietrangelo have led the way for the Crusaders, with Pattison posting a team-high 16 goals and Pietrangelo pitching in 10 goals and 10 assists. Junior Mason Domico has also emerged as a reliable scoring threat with 11 goals.
The two teams have not played any common opponents, but there is a link that favors CBA. One of Bishop Eustace's three losses came against Eastern, which lost to Howell in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV Playoffs. CBA defeated Howell twice during the regular season by scores of 2-0 and 1-0.
Bishop Eustace is in a sectional final for the first time in five years and is seeking its first trip to a state final since losing in the 2001 Non-Public B final. The Crusaders have never won an overall state title and have never reached the state championship game in Non-Public A.
CBA, meanwhile, is seeking its third consecutive trip to the Non-Public A final and 16th overall. The Colts are also in the sectional final for the fourth straight year, with two straight wins in 2015 and 2016 after losing to Notre Dame in the 2014 South Jersey, Non-Public A final.