WOODLAND PARK, NJ - In what is a first for the West Paterson Soccer Association (WPSA), its Division 1 high school level won their league tournament competing under the Morris County Youth Association (MCYA), The team, comprised mostly of high school juniors and seniors from Passaic Valley High School, clinched their victory winning the final game on June 10 in Montville.
According to Barbara Fitzgerald, WPSA registrar, many of the team members have been playing together since they were in kindergarten. Her husband Scott was one the of the founders of the travel soccer organization.
"They were playing together in the recreational and travel program at the West Paterson Boys & Girls Club," she explained. "The WPSA began the program in 2006."
The Division 1 League, consisting of U19 and U18 age group, also won their flight during the regular season, according to co-head coach Peter Papasavas. There are 32 teams in the division, which are broken up by flight.
"Tony Carnemolla and I were co-head coaches and the team was unbeaten in our flight, with 7 wins and one tie," Papasavas explained. "We were fortunate to have coached this group of young men comprising of 11 seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores and one freshman in the MCYA Division 1 league."
He added that in Division 1, there were 32 teams altogether hailing from Morris, Sussex, Passaic, Essex and Warren Counties.
"We were undefeated in our flight with a 7-0-1 record and won our four games in the four rounds of the league cup competition," he added.
Papasavas recalled that the biggest game for the team was during the semi-final was winning against another team that was undefeated, the Newton United Cyclones, with a score of 5-3 at Memorial Field in Woodland Park.
"It was an exciting semi-final 5-3 score against a previously undefeated Newton United team, who were 10-0 before facing us entering the League Cup Tournament and we ended up winning all four games." he said. "They were on a different flight and were a very good team."
The final game against Pompton Lakes/Riverdale, he said was a huge matchup because the only losses for that team this season were against WPSA Arsenal.
"We played them twice in their flight as well as in the cup tournament, beating them with a score of 2 to 1," he noted.
The WPSA team won the tournament cup and ended the season with a record of 11-0-1.
"Tony and I were very proud of the way our kids played all season," he further added. "As coaches, we decided at the start of the season to let them play a very attacking style of play because we trusted their soccer skills, knowledge and maturity, so wanted them to have fun playing. The kids were gritty and exciting to watch the entire season, showing a will to win, while also having the freedom to be creative. In our games, our kids were known for wearing the other teams down with the speed and pressure of their play."
Papasavas also acknowledged the teams' captains, who were Kenny Campen, Michael DeMusso and Zach Fitzgerald, who are all in their senior year. The other team captain, a junior, was Christofer Carnemolla. Many of the team members also play for the Passaic Valley High School soccer team.
"They were terrific captains who kept the confidence level of all players up, even in moments of adversity, and they truly led by example. Our defenders and goalies were rock solid, which allowed us to play the more attacking style," he added. "Tony and I were also very pleased with the fact that these kids had a well deserved reputation for good sportsmanship. Our kids did not retaliate nor back down when other teams tried to physically intimidate us, which happened numerous times during the season, and instead they played with tremendous speed, skill and togetherness. The success of the season was truly a team effort where all the kids made important contributions."
The entire team roster is Zachary Fitzgerald, Kenny Campen, Jason Vogt, Juan Patino, Matt Sytsma, Christofer Carnemolla, Michael DeMusso, Andre Papasavas, Santiago Hernandez, Alessandro Pinto, Andrew Handal, Brandon Alonso, Christopher Martinez, Justin Oviedo, Mike Reda, Joe Polifonte, Ricardo Rodas, Sebastian Cannizzo, Alex Perez, Jake Padula, Alex Cruz, and Alexander Fulchini.
"They received this huge tournament cup and it was a nice way to go out for our oldest members of the league," added Fitzgerald. "It was a very emotional game for players and parents."
For more information on the West Paterson Soccer Association, visit wpsoccer.org.