UNION, NJ – Based on the numbers, it wasn’t one of their better seasons, with a season ending record of 3-15. But what the Union High School Boys Soccer team lacked in wins, they made up for in team spirit and perseverance.
“There was a lot to be learned from this season,” said Union High School Boys Varsity Head Coach Lester Lembryk. “In life, we all face tough times. Do you quit or keep fighting? Our team kept fighting.”
“I give credit to all the guys who made this season great,” said Team Captain Joey Novoa. “Not by our record, but by our working through struggles.”
Lembryk and Novoa said the team took a big hit after last year’s season with the loss of 16 graduating seniors, many of them key players. “Sure, at the end of every year we lose seniors,” said Lembryk, “but losing 16 was a lot to absorb.”
Lembryk said Novoa’s positive attitude helped pull the team together. “Hearing directly from a player has more impact than from the coach,” said Lembryk. “Joey understands that as a captain.”
“My job was to keep my teammates motivated, to help them stay positive, and to push them to work hard,” said Novoa. “Our team got better with every game. By the end of the season, we were falling into place.”
“We won 3 of the last 4 games,” said Lembryk. “The hard work was beginning to pay off.”
Head coach for eight years, Lembryk said the team finished in a positive position for next fall. “The team learned more from this season than from any other.” He said with Novoa’s help the players learned that working hard, dealing with struggle and staying motivated pays off. “I am extremely proud of the way this team came together and stuck together,” Lembryk said. “I have no doubt we would have continued on a winning tract had the season continued.”
It was Novoa’s leadership skills and academic performance that led him to be selected team captain this year. “The captain is the coach’s voice, on and off the field,” said Lembryk. “Joey is a role model, and this year more than others, we needed someone like him to lead the team through the tough times. Really, the team had a great season."