EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Nobody said it was going to be easy. For the better part of the season, both of the East Brunswick High School soccer teams had things pretty much their own way in regular season play and into the post season, while advancing to the semifinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Soccer tournament. But the quality of the teams remaining was clear, as both the Bears and the Lady Bears had to scrap their way to victory to advance to their respective championship games.
The top-seeded East Brunswick boys team defeated the fifth-seeded Falcons of Monroe High School by a score of 2-0. It was a very tight game throughout, with neither team gaining an advantage while battling through a scoreless first half. But then in the 50th minute, Joey Gudzak, who has had a penchant for scoring big goals, came up with another one, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead. The Bears' tight defense made the score hold up, and then Alex Mora scored later in the half to put the game away, sending the Bears to another championship game appearance in the conference tournament.
In the final, the Bears (17-2-1) will face third seeded South Brunswick (14-5-1), which had a strong second-half effort to beat Edison, 3-1. The game will be at Woodbridge High School on Saturday Nov. 2 at 12:30 p.m.
The Lady Bears faced on of their fiercest battles of the season, as Bishop Ahr dominated most of the play in the scoreless first half. Both defenses continues to shine throughout, with the Lady Bears starting to get the better of the play, but unable to find the net. The tension mounted as the minutes went off the clock, and then with about five minutes remaining in regulation, Gabrielle DiLiberto was able to flick a shot past the Bishop Ahr goalie for the game winning score, and give the Lady Bears the thrilling 1-0 victory.
The Lady Bears (15-4-1) move to the championship game, where they get a chance to defend their GMC title against arch rival and second seeded Old Bridge (15-1-0), which defeated South Brunswick by a 2-1 score. The game will also be played at Woodbridge High School on Saturday morning November 2 at 10 a.m.
Both of the East Brunswick teams hope to use a championship as a springboard to bigger things, as the seedings for the State Tournament were to be announced on Oct. 31. The boys team is ranked 15th in The Star-Ledger Top 20 in the state, while the Lady Bears were hoping a victory in the championship game would vault them past 12th-ranked Old Bridge.