Male Team of the Year: Boys Soccer

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Matt Austin

The team huddles together, celebrating the sectional title win. They are this year’s male team of the year.

Ethan Perlman, Sports Editor

The boys soccer team this year made history. They won the first North 1, Group 3 section title in Pascack Valley history. The road to the final was not easy, but fighting through adversity and proving themselves in the toughest of tests is why they are this year’s Male Team of the Year.

The unprecedented run to the Group 3 semifinal started before the season began, with most of the seniors knowing that this was the group to get it done.

“It was a lot of excitement,” Senior Striker Michael Caminneci said. “The year before was the covid year, so we were excited to have a full year with summer practices.”

This year’s seniors used the season before as fuel to the fire, building off of the 3-9 record the team posted the year before.

“When we came into the season, none of us expected to do this well,” Senior midfielder Max Van Gyzen said. “We knew we would have a good season just because we were such a close team, but we still did not expect to [have that kind of success].”

More adversity followed when the team was not selected for the mid-season Bergen County Tournament, which sent shockwaves to the team.

Dylan Criscuolo clears the ball as he avoids the slide tackle. (Matt Austin)

Despite not being selected, the team decided to go to the Bergen Cup, a secondary mid-season tournament option. That decision proved to be successful, and the team ended up winning it all, taking home the cup after defeating Glen Rock in the final.

After the win, their sole focus was the state tournament. After not being selected for the Bergen County Tournament, being successful in states and proving teams wrong was their ultimate goal. The Bergen Cup win, which was the Saturday before the first round, helped propel the team to keep on winning.

“We don’t really focus on wins and losses, we [just focus] on doing our job,” Coach Luciano Cofrancesco said. “Winning [in some ways] breeds winning. The fact that we lifted a trophy and then took that into the tournament, we did have a mentality that we were going to keep going until someone stopped us.”

Coach Coleman celebrates the state sectional finals win against Roxbury 2-1. (Matt Austin)

After defeating Glen Rock, the team continued to win, beating Garfield, Tenafly, undefeated Ramapo, and Roxbury consecutively, the historic sectional final run came in quick succession.

“I think after that first win, we knew we could beat anyone,” Senior midfielder Nico Bonanos said.

During the trek through the sectional finals, three of the five games they played went into overtime. In all three of those games, they came out victorious, showing how battling adversity had always been in their blood.

Although only one of the four games during the sectional playoffs was at home, the Valley crowd’s presence was omnipresent to the players.

“Roxbury was nuts. The amount of fans and parents that showed up [was great],” Senior Luke Stephan said.

The fan presence and support was another factor in their run to the state sectional final, and their eventual win.

“Even at the Ramapo game, it felt like the stands were packed even though [there] was just a row or two of our fans,” Van Gyzen said.

Nolan Wasserman delivers the game winning goal after they defeated Roxbury 2-1 in double overtime. (Matt Austin)

Another interesting twist to their final win was that Coach Luciano Cofrancesco was not in attendance for the game.

“I knew the boys were gonna take care of business. We [always] visualize before the game, so I knew the boys were ready to meet the challenge,” Cofrancesco said. “Missing the game was bittersweet, but I’m glad the boys got [to win].

The seniors don’t plan on stopping the sport they love. As Caminneci puts it, “It’s not something I can just let go.”