It was a season of goals set and goals met in 2022 for the Lenape Valley High School boys soccer program.
“At the start of our season we set a goal as a team to focus on team over self,’’ Lenape Valley head coach Pete Scholl said. “Looking back at our most competitive matches, this mentality really came to light. Two matches stand out most to me-the first was our match against Jefferson (a 4-3 win on Sept. 24), where my team worked hard together and moved the ball extremely well. They were able to come up with a 4-3 victory, with goals from three different players, against a tough opponent who we have not had success against in some time.
“The second game that stands among the rest was our second meeting with Sussex Tech (a 3-1 win on October 6). In our first meeting with them, we took them for granted and underestimated them. We ended up falling short and losing to them, 3-0. However, in our second matchup, we were determined to make up for this. The boys were able to come back from being down 1-0 and win the game 3-1. I attribute this to never giving up on the ball or your team. They stayed hungry for the win, and worked together to accomplish it.’’
The Patriots completed this past season with a winning overall record of 9-8 with a mark of 7-3 the always challenging Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Colonial Division.
“We had many students who stepped up as leaders this season,’’ Scholl said. “Our captains Evan Williams and Nate Sarnella paved the way and really did a great job of leading by example and setting the tone for our team. Evan’s passion for the game of soccer was a driving force in team motivational speeches and he always had a way of looking at the positives in a situation to motivate his team.
“Other leaders include Nico Madrid, Tim Van Klingeren and Aiden Waters who have great skill and knowledge of the game. During our warm ups, as well as our halftime discussions, these players offered valuable insight as to what they felt was working and what we could do to improve. Each one of them never gave up on the ball and set the bar through example for dedication to the team. I would be remised if I did not mention two sophomores who really stepped up this year and took leadership in the way of positively motivating their team to work together. Fredo Lopez and Lucas Granada are two extremely hard working players who demanded excellence from themselves and their team. They did not settle for less and our team was better off for it.’’
A number of student athletes on the roster were impressive with the variety of ways in which the improved as soccer players from beginning to end of the season.
“We had a few athletes that really showed continual growth throughout the entire season,’’ Scholl said. “This was most apparent in our younger players, such as Liam Abelson and Johan Zizajkovski, who really gave it their all in our training sessions.
“One of my defensive players, Kevin McGroarty is a prime example of hard work paying off. He started the season on JV and always gave 110% effort on the field. He finished the season as a varsity starter on our defensive line. I think I can speak for my team in saying that you could almost see him improving by the minute in our games.’’
The Patriots advanced to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 2 Sectional Tournament as the No. 13 seed and they were defeated by fourth seeded Demarest on October 27.
Look for the momentum built by the Patriots to carry over to the fall of 2023.
“I am looking forward to watching our offense continue to develop,’’ Scholl said. “While we are losing several starting players, the core of our offense will remain the same. We will look to them to move the ball well, as they did this season and put the ball in the back of the net.
“I am also optimistic that even with a young defensive line, we will still hold our own in our defensive third of the field. There were several underclassmen that stepped in big defensive positions this past season and they will be counted on next year.’’
The two captains on the roster will continue their academic and athletic careers at the collegiate level.