VERONA, NJ – With four shutouts out of ten games, goalie Billy Czupak has proven he has what it takes to protect the net for the Hillbillies. At the time of this writing, Czupak had 67 saves for the season and allowed only 15 goals, earning him TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove’s Hillbilly Athlete of the Week honors.
What made Czupak stand out from the rest? Newark Tech knows the answer to that, as Czupak led Verona to a 0-0 draw in the September 25 game. Not only did he not give up a goal, he made 12 saves including three in overtime to keep his team in the game.
“That game was a real turning point for us,” said Czupak. “It reinforced my teammates’ trust with me because I kept them in it.”
“It showed what he can do. They weren’t 12 easy saves,” added Verona Head Coach Wayne Looney. “For him, it was a turning point and a confidence builder. He knew he saved that game for us.”
Czupak’s performance was also recognized by the fans as he was named the Super Essex Conference’s top goalie in an NJ.com fan vote. In his first year as starting goalie for Verona, he is certainly turning a lot of heads.
“At the beginning of the season, they didn’t trust me as much but I think I have proved myself so far. Hopefully they can just keep trusting in me,” noted Czupak.
“He’s fearless and that’s 90 percent of the job,” added Looney. “He is one of those guys who will go out 1-on-1 and get the ball without turning away or hesitating. That’s how he won the job this year.”
For the week, Verona went 1-1-1 and has improved to a 6-3-1 record overall as they look to make this a memorable season. Down the road, Looney believes that Czupak will be someone that comes up big in a clutch moment for the Hillbillies.
“He’s going to be the kid that wants a game in a finals or state tournament to go to penalty kicks or a shootout and be your man. That’s his attitude,” noted Looney.
Czupak and team take on Belleville on Friday at home at 7 p.m.
Editor's Note: The "Athlete of the Week" is a weekly reoccurring feature story that highlights an individual student-athlete's success. The Verona High School Athlete of the Week is selected with the assistance of the school's athletic director and coaching staff.