BRHS boys’ soccer edged in Group I title game

By: Sean Moylan
   The Patriot Division is undoubtedly one of the toughest Group II divisions in the state. Therefore, the Bordentown Regional High School boys’ varsity soccer team can be very proud to have five of its players selected to the B.C.S.L. Patriot Division all-star team.
   Taylor Martucci and C.J. Dixon were the Scotties’ First-Team selections. Scott Conover, Willie Steinman and Jesse Harrison represented Bordentown as Second Team all-stars.
   With 23 goals and 9 assists, Martucci, a senior forward, was one of the easiest all-star selections in the conference. The Scotties’ all-time leading scorer, Martucci is one of New Jersey’s toughest players to cover.
   "Taylor (Martucci) had another tremendous year scoring," said Bordentown coach Mike Brennan.
   Dixon, a junior goalkeeper, posted seven shutouts and improved with each and every game. His play in the state championship game versus Pompton Lakes (a 2-1 loss) was nothing short of spectacular.
   "C.J. (Dixon) is perhaps the kid I’m most proud of on the team," said Brennan. "He came out over the summer and just worked and worked and worked."
   Conover, Bordentown’s senior outside left midfielder, has tremendous skills with a soccer ball.
   "He (Conover) is just super technical. When you think of the prototypical outside halfback that can dance on the ball, you think of Scott," noted Brennan. "He’s going to do very well in college."
   Steinman, a junior forward, is just a big and strong physical specimen, who happened to score eight goals, in this, his first year playing soccer.
   "As a football (former) football player he didn’t know much about soccer. But he’s as dominant in the air as anyone in the conference," said Brennan. "He’s a weapon. On free kicks inside of 50 yards, he’s extremely dangerous."
   Harrison, a talented junior midfielder, is Bordentown’s primary free kick specialist. Often times he’ll control the middle of the field. But he will also move up to score a goal every so often. Joe Eckelmann, a senior defender on the Scotties, also had a tremendous season. However it’s hard to make an all-star team when you’re playing in the same division as Delran and Cinnaminson. Brennan should get some serious consideration for coach of the year. He had his Scotties holding their own against Group II elite teams. Then his team came within a goal of tying for a Group I state title. It was Bordentown’s best season since 1986.
   Playing in a Freedom Division which was the strongest its been in years, the Florence High School boys’ soccer team quietly had a stellar 9-7-2 season.
   The Flashes were led by a strong core group of senior players. Four of those upper-classmen were so good they were chosen to the Freedom Division all-star team.
   Eric Centofanti, a senior sweeper, was a First-Team pick.
   "He’s very good at reading plays and making good decisions," said Florence coach Mike Flynn of Centofanti, who controlled the Flashes’ terrific defense.
   Daniel Starkey, a senior midfielder who has been one of the staples in the Flashes lineup for years, was chosen as a Second Team all-star. Like Centofanti, Starkey is also a master at reading the game. He was also one of Florence’s primary goal scorers.
   Senior forward Ugur Evci was the Flashes’ greatest offensive threat this past season.
   "Ugur (Evci) had seven or eight goals. He’s a very good one-on-one dribbler. He’s got a very good right foot," said Flynn, who relied on Evci to come up big for him in big games.
   Mike Laux averaged roughly a dozen saves a game and recorded three shutouts. The Flashes senior goalie was so instrumental in the team’s success that he was picked as a Second Team Freedom Division all-star.
   The Flashes won nine games this season despite having two of the easier games on its schedule (against Medford Tech and Willingboro) cancelled. Florence also never got a chance to see what talented senior Nick Moldanado was capable of doing because he suffered a serious injury before the season even began. And yet, Flynn and his assistant Ovi Dragos got Florence back to the playoffs, just as they always seem to do. But next year will have its share of question marks just like this one did.
   "We’re losing a pretty good amount of quality seniors. But I think we have a lot of guys returning on defense. We just need guys to step up and become forwards," said Flynn, who will probably find a way to get the Flashes back to the playoffs next year too.
   Few teams play a more difficult schedule against more ranked teams than the Northern Burlington County Regional High School boys’ varsity soccer squad does. But that does have its benefits. A lot of the top coaches in the state got to see how dominating NBC’s Jay Castaldo and Garrett Beebe were at their positions. Consequently. both made the All-State All-Star squad.
   Castaldo, a senior, was also the top vote-getter of any forward on the Liberty Division All-Star Team. He also made All-South Jersey. What makes Castaldo so dominating? The intangibles. He can pass or score, and he often takes on two or three defenders at a time.
   "Castaldo is an excellent player. He does a lot of things with the ball and he sees the field real well. There are a lot of dimensions to his game," noted NBC coach Tim Tedesco of his team’s on the field general.
   Beebe, who is also a senior, is a tremendous one-on-one defender, who is often asked to mark the opposition’s best scorer the entire game. In addition to being selected to the All-State team, Beebe was picked as a Liberty Division First -Team all-star.
   "He’s (Beebe) got good height and it’s hard to get a ball by him," added Tedesco.
   Jimmy Grogg, a senior midfielder, also made it as a Liberty Division First-Teamer.
   "Grogg had a bunch of goals and he kept us in a lot of games," said Tedesco.
   NBC seniors Dave Rogers and Chris McMullen were selected as Second Team all-stars.
   Rogers, a big time leader for the Greyhounds, had a big year.
   "He’s our captain in the back," remarked Tedesco of Rogers. "He controls all of our plays back there." McMullen had a stellar season playing as both a midfielder and a forward.
   "McMullen is definitely our emotional leader," said Tedesco. "He does a lot of good things with the ball." McMullen was often NBC’s first scoring option.
   While he didn’t make the all-star team, NBC senior goalie Jeff Vanguilder had an all-star caliber season. He shut down many of the best team’s in the state. NBC was probably the best .500 team (7-7-4) to ever come out of the Liberty Division. The Greyhounds also accomplished their primary goal by making it back to the playoffs this season. The team will graduate 11 seniors, who all played significant minutes. And yet NBC has a lot of talented juniors who are itching to play more so the team may be able to avoid a rebuilding year next season.