The high school boys soccer season began Tuesday in Cape May County, with Middle Township scoring a 6-1 win over Pleasantville.
The Panthers are coming off a strong preseason and should be a solid team again in 2019. Ocean City, coming off a Cape-Atlantic League title, is also very formidable despite the graduation losses of several key players.
Lower Cape May should improve behind a more seasoned roster, Cape May Tech will look to be at least as competitive as last fall and Wildwood will look to stay solid in the Tri-County Conference after a record-breaking season last fall.
The following is a look at each of Cape May County’s high school boys soccer teams:
CAPE MAY TECH
Cape May Tech enjoyed a competitive 9-8 season a year ago and hopes to improve upon that showing behind 12 returning players.
Seniors Zach Kershaw (MF/D, team captain), Anthony Paluch (D), Scotty Whitlshire (MF) and Jamie Butler (D) and junior Jacob Perez (F) lead the way for the Hawks.
Other returnees include seniors Ian Cardaci (D/MF), Trevor Tozour (D), Charlie France (D), Will Fuelner (D), Luke Rullo (MF) and Cain Rullo (MF), junior Joel Sheptock (MF) and sophomore Lucas Gehring (GK).
The top new players include senior Sam Scarcelli (MF), sophomores Matt Panzini (MF) and J.P. Arena (FK/MF) and freshman Nick Boehm (GK/MF).
“We are still a growing program but we have made a lot of progress and we look forward to building on last year’s success and continuing to build,” second-year head coach Jon Harris said.
Cape May Tech opens the season next Monday at Pennsauken Tech.
— Brian Cunniff
LOWER CAPE MAY
Competing without a senior and in a very strong National Conference within the Cape-Atlantic League, it’s no surprise that Lower Cape May struggled to just three wins last season.
Most of the same scheduling challenges remain, but a large group of returning players should help the Caper Tigers compete better this fall.
Seniors Mark Ryan (GK) and T.J. Shoffler (MF) and junior Jordan Pierce (MF) lead Lower Cape May. Ryan is regarded as one of the best returning goalkeepers in South Jersey after recording 211 saves, fourth-best in the region, last season.
Other returning players include seniors Dakota Black (D/MF), Ryan Devine (MF), Colin Mil (MF/F) and Ahmed Mohamed (MF/F), juniors Collin Hassay (D/MF) and Donovan Richardson (D) and sophomores Nicholas Adams (D), Logan Barikian (MF), Mikey Flores (MF/F), Troy Genaro (MF), Nick Kraus (MF/D) and Andrew Weber (MF/D/GK).
Freshmen who could see varsity action this season include Miguel Valencia (MF), Braden Brojakowski (F), Ryan Dougherty (MF), Taj Turner (D) and Tobias Worster (D).
“We will try our best to compete and hopefully make the state tournament,” said 13th-year head coach Dennis Elia. “We are in a much tougher conference now that the CAL has gone to three conferences. We have to play teams like Ocean City, Middle Township, Absegami and now Mainland twice a season so it is going to be rough. We did not graduate any players and return almost everyone from last year’s team so the boys know what to expect and are eager to improve from last season.”
Lower is scheduled to open the season Friday at home against Oakcrest.
— Brian Cunniff
Middle Township has some high expectations this season, with many of the players returning from last year’s 12-8-1 team.
In addition, Middle won the 20-team Stockton preseason tournament in the preseason and also beat defending state Group I champion Glassboro in a scrimmage last week.
Senior David Gardner (F) returns as one of South Jersey’s top goal scorers after netting 17 as a junior last season. Other key returnees include seniors Owen Carlson (MF) and Brendon Bartha (F/MF) and juniors Max Gilbert (F), Gavin Quinn (MF) and Braiden Scarpa (GK). Scarpa posted eight shutouts last season.
There are also quite a few talented newcomers on the roster, in particular freshman Steven Berrodin (MF/D), who was recently selected to attend the national Olympic Development Program at the IMG Academy in Florida.
The Panthers are led by second-year head coach Matt Gilbert.
Middle opened the season Tuesday at home against Pleasantville, posting a thorough 6-1 victory behind a hat trick by Gardner. Teo Dimitrov added a goal and an assist.
The Panthers next play Friday at Absegami.
— Brian Cunniff
Ocean City won the championship of the Cape-Atlantic League’s National Conference last year and defeated St. Augustine Prep to win the inaugural CAL Tournament. The Raiders (15-5-1 in 2019) declined an invitation to play in the South Jersey Coaches Tournament and lost a shootout to Cherry Hill West in the NJSIAA Group 3 Tournament’s second round.
Gone from last season’s team are four of the top six scorers, including Hunter Paone (11 goals), Trevor Paone (11), Luke Varallo (10) and Matt Brook (7). That quartet combined for 117 career goals and 74 assists. Also gone is first team all- star Joe Sacco, plus goalkeeper Brian Calderon, Anthony Inserra, Matt Leap, Jaden Efrati and Thanasi Koutsfetsoulis.
Senior Fisher Hudak had seven goals last year and tied Brook for the team leadership with nine assists. Sophomore John Lindsay had six goals a year ago to get his career off to a good start. Sophomore Ori Levy-Smith; juniors Drew Tarr, Kyle Harper and Nick Chiccarine; and senior Aidan Reid are expected to contribute for coach Aaron Bogushefsky (135-62-15 in 10 seasons). Junior Kyle Plenn takes over in goal. Seniors Cameron McDonald, Aidan Pearce and Todd Reimet; juniors Reed Lindsay, Sergio Miller, Sean MacNaughton and Armando Martinez; and sophomore Ben Steiger will also play important roles.
“Fisher Hudak returns as a senior leader along with Aidan Reid,” said Bogushefsky. “Kyle Harper and John Lindsay also return to solidify our attack. Newcomers Ori Levy-Smith, Drew Tarr and Nick Chiccarine look to add to our team’s success this year. Ocean City looks to be competitive in the CAL and the Group 3 Tournament this season. We have a young team but one that plays well together and is hungry for success.”
The Raiders open Friday in Egg Harbor City against Cedar Creek and play their first home game Monday against Absegami at Tennessee Avenue. The big challenge on the schedule will be on the night of Oct. 7 when OCHS travels to Talen Energy Stadium — home of the Philadelphia Union — to battle St. Augustine Prep, ranked No. 7 in the state.
— Tom Williams
Wildwood set a program record with 13 victories but graduated a handful of top players, including all-time leading scorer Tyler Tomlin.
But 10 players still return, giving hope that the Warriors can remain competitive in the Tri-County Classic Division.
The Warriors are led by seniors Corlen Vallese (D) and Jaxon Tomlin (MF) and junior Erubay Sanchez (MF). Vallese was a first-team all-league defender, Tomlin posted four goals and Sanchez produced six assists last season.
Other returning players to the Warriors include seniors Mateo Perez (D) and Nik Finocchiaro, juniors Nick Cripps (D/MF) and Jose Bautista (F) and sophomores Josh Vallese (F) and Alexandro Bautista (F).
New players expected to contribute include juniors Elder Gonzales (MF/F), Seamus Fynes (GK) and Ethan Burke (D) and freshmen Jason Gonzales, Joey Mormile and Alesandro Sanzone (GK).
“Our goals for the season are to be above .500 and continue to build on the success we have had the last few years,” said 16th-year head coach Steve DeHorsey. “We have some young, exciting players that will need to learn on the fly.”
Wildwood begins the season Friday at home against Cumberland.
— Brian Cunniff
After going 5-11-2 last fall, Wildwood Catholic brings back more experience and a lot of seniors in 2019 and hopes for improvement.
Leading the way for the Crusaders is senior Sean Dougherty (F), a potent attacker who led all Cape May County players in goals scored with 29.
Other top returning players include seniors Matt Vogdes (MF) and Tommy Bolle (D).
Additional players with experience include seniors Conor Farrell (MF), Tyler Cruz (GK), C.J. Deegler (MF) and Scott Fiore (D).
Among the newcomers, freshman Jimmy Kane (MF) is expected to make immediate impact. Other freshmen expected to see varsity time include Vincent Tenaglia (MF) and Patrick Feketics (MF).
“With a strong senior class, we expect to compete in every game this season in the United (Conference),” second-year head coach Jim Lushok said.
The Crusaders are scheduled to open at Buena on Friday.
— Brian Cunniff