Bombers playing like a White Division contender

But Monroe takes early division lead


Staff Writer

The Sayreville High School boys soccer team began the season with a bang — winning its first four games before finally losing on Tuesday to Monroe.

Coach Nick Cifelli’s team has wins over Plainfield (2-0), Carteret (4-1), South Plainfield (3-1) and Piscataway (5-1) thanks, in part, to strong play by its midfielders.

Junior Lamin Sidibeh, in particular, has been excellent in tallying five goals and adding an assist. Sidibeh, who occasionally plays up front and scored 12 times last year, is adept at moving the ball quickly to Sayreville’s forwards.

Chris Cesare has also done a fine job in the middle, piling up five assists to go with a pair of goals.

Eric Geig, Carlos Caspao and junior Jeff Rapach play midfield as well. In addition, Sayreville is about to bring Matt Hammond and junior Jon Sosa back into the fold. Hammond is about a week away from playing as he recovers from knee surgery, while Sosa is day-to-day after suffering a broken wrist.

Junior striker Colly Muwalo leads the forwards with goals. He’s joined in the attack by Alfredo Prados, Mike Cuozzo and junior Kevin Black.

“We’re scoring enough goals to win, although I think the team is capable of scoring more often,” Cifelli said. “I’m starting to see more consistency, but we’ll need to step up our scoring if we want to get back to the GMC semifinals.”

Defensively, the Bombers are sound with veteran Larry Pokrywa in goal. The three-year starter has allowed just three goals thus far, while playing spectacularly, Cifelli said. Chris Mattaboni is the backup netminder.

The back line consists of a pair of talented sophomores, Matt Welma and Michael Weber, at stopper and sweeper, respectively. Three-year veteran Brian Nowicki adds experience and stability, with Mitchell St. Louis and Paul Rataczyk rounding out the defense.

Last season Sayreville went 13-7-1 overall, and a strong second half of the season propelled the Bombers to the Greater Middlesex Conference semifinals as well as the NJSIAA CJ Group IV quarterfinals.

“We’re looking to make a strong showing in the tournaments this year,” Cifelli said. “That means improving with each game and working together, and so far I’ve liked what I’ve seen.”

Notes … Monroe’s win over Sayreville was the fifth straight for the Falcons, who have come out of the gate on fire.

The eighth-ranked Falcons were looking for a bit of revenge against the Bombers as well, with a late-season loss to Sayreville last year still fresh on their minds. That loss ended Monroe’s division title hopes, and added some more juice to an already juicy rivalry.

Senior Justin Miller broke a scoreless tie with just 23 minutes left to play on Tuesday, booting the ball past Sayreville goalie Larry Pokrywa off a perfect cross from Billy Phillips.

Less than three minutes later, Monroe’s Zach Theinert provided the second goal, and the Falcons were well on their way toward claiming sole possession of first place in the division.

But there’s a long way to go, and the No. 6 Bombers will certainly be looking forward to the rematch with Monroe.

Another local team off to a good start is the Spotswood Chargers.

The Chargers used a pair of Scott Phibbs goals to knock off rival South River 2-1 on Monday, and improve to 3-2 on the young season. More importantly, they are 3-0 in the Blue Division, and well on their way to making last year’s 5-14 campaign a distant memory.

Spotswood returns 10 starters from that team, and 14 letter-winners in all, and appears poised to not only chase down a postseason berth but possibly make a run at a division title in what should be a highly competitive race. Right now, they’re right where they want to be — in first place.

As for South River, the Rams came out of Monday’s game with a 2-2-1 mark, which is no surprise to head coach Eric Clays. The Rams, last year’s Blue Division runner-up to Metuchen, lost nearly its entire starting lineup from last year, returning just four starters.

However, with several talented newcomers, look for the Rams to improve steadily over the course of the season, and be a force to be reckoned with before long.

The East Brunswick Bears got a chance to see how they stacked up against the best the GMC has to offer when they faced North Brunswick on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, despite playing well, the Bears came out on the losing end of a hard-fought 1-0 game. The talented Ibrahim Kamara scored the game-winner in the 17th minute, beating Mark Abramowitz, who was solid in net with 12 saves.

But East Brunswick, who graduated some very talented players, proved that they are among the GMC’s elite teams once again, coming off a 13-6-2 year that saw them finish third in the ridiculously competitive Red Division behind North Brunswick and J.P. Stevens.