With its victory, CBA will pursue its eighth state title when it meets Seton Hall Prep Nov. 14.
With its victory, CBA will pursue its eighth state title when it meets Seton Hall Prep Nov. 14.

The NJSIAA state tournaments are in full swing, and the Dioceses of Trenton schools are making their mark in a big way – starting with soccer.

The Diocese already has one South Jersey Non-Public A soccer champion after the Colts of Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, defeated Notre Dame, Lawrenceville, 5-4, in a wild boys’ sectional championship game Nov 11. It was a battle of state powerhouses, as CBA is ranked No. 3 in New Jersey and ND is ranked No. 4.

There is also a guaranteed South Jersey Non-Public A girls’ champion waiting to be decided, as Red Bank Catholic, Red Bank, hosts St. John Vianney, Holmdel, Nov. 12.

With its victory, CBA will pursue its eighth state title when it meets North Jersey champion Seton Hall Prep, West Orange – ranked No. 1 in the state – at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Kean University in Union. It will be a rematch of the 2016 final, won by the Colts.

The RBC/SJV winner will take on the Immaculate Heart, Washington Township,/Montclair Kimberly winner at Kean on the same day, with the time to be decided.

The Colts won their 18th straight and raised their record to 20-1 by jumping to a big lead and then holding off a furious comeback attempt by the Irish (18-3-2 record). Goals by Will Thygeson, Dylan Cupo and Dimitry Cobra gave CBA a 3-0 lead. ND’s Owen Barlow cut the deficit to 3-1 prior to halftime. Jake Homowitz regained the Colts’ three-goal advantage with a score early in the second half, but the Irish responded with goals from Aiden Hoenisch and Kyle Allen to make it 4-3. Cupo scored again to add some insurance, which proved necessary when ND got a penalty kick goal from Danny Bensch with 38 seconds remaining.  

Jake D’Eletto had two assists for CBA while Jack McGagh added one. Joe Grossman and Ryan Hayes combined for seven saves.  

While CBA moves on to the finals for the first time since 2018 (when they won the state title), it was a tough way to go out for a senior-dominated Notre Dame team in Bryan Fisher’s first year as head coach. Hoenisch led the Irish’s offensive juggernaut with 23 goals and 22 assists, while Bensch had 20 and 12 and Allen had 19 and 13.

The two teams produced a memorable final game on CBA’s grass field, which has seen a lot of them. The Colts move on to a new turf field next fall.

View the Photo Gallery of the CBA/ND game HERE.

The Red Bank Catholic/St. John Vianney clash is also a battle of top 20 teams in the state. The RBC Caseys (13-4-1) are ranked No. 5, while the St. John Vianney Lancers (13-4-1) is No. 18 despite defeating the Caseys, 2-1, in overtime in a regular-season game Sept. 18. Ally Quano and Sophia Gambale had the Lancer goals while Mya King scored for RBC.

SJV coach Heather Bailey feels that win helped kickstart her team’s season.

“That first game showed that we were capable of competing and winning against a Top Five Shore Conference team,” Bailey said. “It helped to build our team’s confidence and let us know we can compete with the top teams.”

The Caseys rolled into the South Jersey finals with 3-1 and 7-0 wins over Princeton Day School, Princeton, and Donovan Catholic, Toms River. Giana Romeo had two goals and Noel Pauwels added one against PDS, while Devyn Drusjak and King had two apiece against Donovan Catholic. Pauwels, Romeo and Morgan Cupo also tallied.

St. John Vianney entered the game Nov. 11, not having allowed a goal in the states, as it has defeated Union Catholic, Scotch Plains, 2-0, Our Lady of Mercy, Newfield, 5-0, and Trinity Hall, Tinton Falls, 3-0. Over three games, Milani Thompson had four goals, Quano scored three, and Cate O’Grady, Madison Pieloch and Julianna Perrette tallied one apiece. Kelsea Nolen notched the three shutouts in goal.

Asked what aided the Lancers victory in the first meeting, Bailey said “the key to beating them was great team play all over the field. Our defense did a good job of dealing with great offensive pressure that RBC presents. We battled for 50-50 balls and were able to score a transitional goal in OT to win.”

And what has to happen to pull off a second “upset”?  

“For this game, we just have to play our game, play smart, and play hard and most of all, play together,” the coach said. “I am happy with where we are as a team. We are ready to compete and battle for the entire game.”

Red Bank Catholic is looking for its ninth South Jersey championship and first since 2016. St. John Vianney has won three sectional titles but is looking for its first since 2004.

FOOTBALL

The Griffins of Donovan Catholic, Toms River, rolled past Notre Dame, 48-8, in a first-round Non-Public A game and, as a reward, gets to face Bergen Catholic, Oradell, in a Nov. 13 quarterfinal. Bergen Catholic is 9-0 and the top-ranked team in the state.

Donovan Catholic is a misleading 6-4, as three of its losses were by forfeit, which the school reported was due to a clerical error. The Griffins scored on their first two plays from scrimmage against Notre Dame and kept pulling away from that point.

Jalin Butler threw for 173 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 72 yards and a TD. Nunes Bukula rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while Mysun Esdaile, Kyree Drake, Mike Thomas and Eric Zebrowski caught scoring passes. Anthony Perrelli’s line pass went for a touchdown.

Notre Dame quarterback AJ Surace threw for 200 yards and a touchdown to Marcus Peterson, who caught six passes for 124 yards.

Donovan Catholic, which was ranked ninth in the state by nj.com prior to defeating Notre Dame, will be going against a Bergen Catholic team that posted the first undefeated record in the Super Football Conference since it was formed in 2016.

Red Bank Catholic (8-1), which was handed its lone loss of the season by Donovan Catholic on Oct. 29, opens Non-Public B play by hosting Morris Catholic, Denville, (4-5) Nov. 11. RBC’s Alex Brown has thrown for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Sabino Portella leads a balanced ground attack with 729 rushing yards.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Donovan Catholic ended its season with a 22-5 record after dropping a 2-0 decision to Paul VI, Haddonfield, in the Non-Public Group A semifinals. The Griffins reached the semis by defeating Our Lady of Mercy, 2-0, in the first round, and Union Catholic, 2-0, in the quarterfinals.

Laine Kulpinski had 17 assists and eight aces against Our Lady of Mercy, Sydney Wacha had 11 digs, Madelyn Oehme collected six kills and Macayla Lindner blistered six aces. Kulpinski was at it again against Union Catholic with 15 assists, five digs and three aces. Wacha added 10 digs.  

 St. John Vianney won its Non-Public A opener against Notre Dame, 2-0, but fell to Kent Place, Summit, 2-0, in the quarterfinals. Mackenzie Bloss had 14 assists, four digs and four aces against the Irish. Christina Lenzo handed out seven assists for ND. Bloss had 12 assists against Kent Place while Marina MIllett notched seven digs.

In Non-Public B play, St. Rose won its opener over St. Dominic, Jersey City, 2-0, but fell in the next round, 2-0, to Mount St. Dominic, Caldwell.

Grace Toscano collected eight assists against St. Dominic, while Lauren Caswell had nine kills and four digs and Grace Conlin added seven digs.

CROSS COUNTRY

The NJSIAA Non-Public A & B Championships were held at Holmdel Park Nov. 11, and several runners from the Trenton Diocese looked to have strong finishes and advance to the Meet of Champions.

The top two teams in each of the six groups will advance to the Meet of Champions, and the top 10 finishers in each group will also advance regardless of whether their team makes it. The next fastest 10 runners who do not qualify from their team advance via a wildcard.

CBA boys look to be the favorite in Non-Public A after easily winning the Shore Conference meet. The Colts are seeking their 31st state championship behind Jack Moran, Nick Sullivan, Joe Barrett, Jack Falkowski and Alex Kemp.

St. Rose’s Brian Theobald also has the potential to advance after finishing sixth at the Shore Conference Meet.

In the girls’ event, St. Rose’s Tilly O’Connor and RBC’s Cate DeSousa are in New Jersey’s Top 5 of fastest times this season and should make it to the MOC. The Caseys’ Kate DeFilippis could also advance if RBC does not get through as a team.  

FIELD HOCKEY

Notre Dame reached the Non-Public A semifinals with a 3-0 win over St. Rose, but then dropped a 7-0 decision to Camden Catholic, Cherry Hill. Nicole Villalta-Barrantes, Sarah Ippolito and Ellie Marrone each had a goal and assist for the Irish against St. Rose, and Juliana Ross made 11 saves for the shutout.