SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Suburban Youth Soccer League (SYSL) held its spring season SYSL Cup championships on June 16th at Scotch Plains Fanwood High School. In all, 22 divisional championships and 3rd place games were played on the day to decide the medal winners in all 10 divisions.
“SYSL Cup was the culmination of a great season for SYSL,” says League Commissioner and SPFSA President Andrew Bondarowicz. “We saw our league grow to 12 clubs and over 100 teams in just our second season. The competitive level of our teams continues to grow and gave us some great, great games.”
For the Scotch Plains Fanwood Soccer Association (SPFSA), 15 of their 26 full-sided teams played in either championships or third place games on the day. Here is a rundown of how they did:
High School Girls Premier Division Championship
In the High School Girls Championship, the Cranford Cougars was able to overpower the SPF Storm 5-2 in a match cut short due to a serious injury on the field. The Storm themselves suffered several key injuries early in the match - including the loss of two different goalkeepers by the 20th minute of the match as they fell behind 2-0 early. They managed to tighten the game to 2-1 on a goal by Mia Craven off a corner kick, but Cranford managed to score again before halftime to open up their lead. Sofia Dietze added another goal for SPF in the second half, but with an emphasis on attacking, Cranford was able to out-muscle the Storm and take a commanding lead and never look back. The game was cut short due to a serious injury to a Cranford player, who had to be carted off the field by medical personnel. Despite the Storm threatening late, the long delay and emotional drain on both teams was too great and the game ended with Cranford as the champions.
High School Boys First Division Championship
In the High School Boys First Division, the SPF Cosmos completed an undefeated season (11-0) with a win in the Championship Game. The Cosmos were tested in this final game and needed a final-minute header for a 1-0 win over Clark to capture the division title. Team was coached by Charlie Maloney and Kelly Dencker.
U13 Girls Premier Championship
In the U13 Girls Premier Division Championship, The SPF Fire defeated the previously undefeated SPF Blue Flame by a score of 2-0. For the Fire team, it was their 5th straight Championship (4 straight SYSL/Intercounty titles and 1 House Title). In the first quarter, the Fire’s Kayla Fiore slipped a pass up to Carys Browne who took it up the sideline, past a defender and deposited it into the left corner past Blue Flame goalie Ava Billotto.
Billotto got revenge soon after with a big penalty kick stop of Browne halfway through the first half. With the score 1-0, both teams came out strong in the 2nd half. The Blue Flame pressured the Fire for the first 15 minutes. But, any pass across the middle was quickly thwarted by the Fire’s co-Stoppers Heather Sherman and Ahana Majumdar. When the ball got through them, the swarming defense and big kicks of Juliet Poindexter, Brianna Alvarez and Bella Cucci were there to clear it. Fire goalie Grace Conklin, having won a U15 Girls 1st Division Championship earlier in the day with the SPF Tigers, turned aside every shot that came her way and took home her 2nd Championship Medal. With 20 minutes left in the game, and a scrum by the Blue Flame net, Browne (who also won earned a 3rd place medal in the morning with the U15 Girls Premier SPF Retrievers) eventually broke free and scored her 2nd goal of the game to give the Fire a commanding 2-0 lead to clinch the victory.
U13 Girls SPF Fire
High School Boys Premier Division Championship
In the High School Boys Premier Championship game, Scotch Plains Warriors walked away with second place in a nail-biting, varsity level game against the Westfield Rapids. Westfield scored the first goal of the game late in the first half. Scotch Plains tied it up in the second half on a Jared Bloom header off of a free kick by LeeDar Sneor. The score remained tied through regulation and the double overtime periods. It was equally matched until the end, when Westfield scored the lucky winning goal. It took seven kicks from each team in the penalty kick shootout before Westfield walked away with the championship trophy. This was the last game for the Scotch Plains Warriors, who have been playing together since Pre-K through this season -- their final one in high school.
Coach Marc Cohen added: “They are an amazing group of young men that will no doubt be successful in all that they do. Good luck to them all as they step into their next adventures.”
U15 Boys Premier Division
In the U15G Premier Division Third Place game, the SPF Knights were able to overpower the Clark Cougars 6-0. The Knights have historically been the top team in this division, but they yielded the age group’s top spot to FC Thunder (Plainfield) who were able to edge another newcomer in the Bound Brook Strikers 2-0.
U15 Girls Premier Division
In the U15G Premier Championship Game the 4th place (regular season) SPF Tornadoes defeated the Clark Strykers 3-2 continuing their hot streak to earn the Championship win. Sofia Dietze scored the first goal of the game with an assist from Haley Cino. Clark struck back soon after, to make the score 1-1. Clark then scored again ending the first half with a 2-1 lead. Midway through the second half, Dietze converted a penalty to tie the game. Just when everyone thought the game was going into overtime, Clare McGuinness scored the winning goal off of a corner kick made by Lauren Gettler with less than two minutes remaining!
In the third place game, the top two teams in the regular season faced off as the SPF Retrievers - the fall season champions - faced the Cranford Sky Blue. In a tight game throughout, the Retrievers were able to finish out on a high note as they emerged victorious in a 2-1 game.
U15 Girls First Division
In the U15G First Championship, the #2 seed SPF Tigers, coached by Jerry Brown and Ed Kaulfers, were able to edge out the Springfield Roadrunners 2-1 on a late goal by Stephanie Brown with less that five minutes left in the game. This was the Tigers first ever division championship!
U13 First Division
The SPF Savages entered the championship game after a big semifinal win over the SPF Knights. The Savages, though, were unable to repeat the magic in the division championship game as they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Cranford Wild.
In the U13 First Division third place game, the SPF Knights led by Adam Sackett and Simon Kendall rebounded from their semifinal loss - their first in 18 game unbeaten contests - to claim third place with a 5-3 victory over the Cranford Dynamo. Tristan Huber’s go-ahead score on a great feed by Jack Kendall gave the Knights a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. A stifling defense led by Colin Mahr and Antonio Ficazzola helped thwart a fierce late game charge by the Dynamo to clinch the final result. “This was a great year for this team of fifth graders playing a good deal of their season against sixth and seventh graders. We can’t wait for the 2018-2019 year,” says coach Adam Sackett.
U13 Premier Division
In the U13 Boys Premier Division championship, town rivals met yet again to decide the age group championship. The SPF Gunners took a 2-0 lead early. But, the regular season leading SPF Rockers came back when Sean Foxton scored on a breakaway goal right before the half. Diego Diaz added another one for the Rockers on a penalty kick early in the second half and Sean Foxton added another goal to give the Rockers a 3-2 lead. “It was a back and forth contest, but a very well played game,” states Rockers head coach Rory Caponigro. “We’ve developed a great rivalry with the Gunners, so the kids were very excited to come out ahead!”
In the third place game, the SPF Raiders held on for a 1-0 victory over the the Springfield Cosmos.