WEST CALDWELL, NJ — A struggling James Caldwell boys soccer team is looking to get healthy in order to make 2017 a meaningful season after a 4-0 loss to Seton Hall Prep on Monday drops the squad under .500.
“I’m happy we didn’t get injured because we’ve had a slew of injuries so far and you could say it could have been worse—4-0 isn’t the worst thing,” said Caldwell head coach Alan Branigan.
Battling injuries to five starting players, the Chiefs tried to put their best foot forward. The squad managed to collect pressure early on, generating the game’s first shot on goal, but wouldn’t be able to sustain pressure against the Pirates.
“We come out here and we tried to put together something and at times we looked okay,” said Branigan.
Ultimately, Seton Hall drew first blood in the seventh minute off the foot of Brian Zimmerman. The Pirates would add three more goals from Max Engelbrechtsen, Adam Silva and Joe Cubero to take a commanding 4-0 lead.
“You have potential division-one players for Seton Hall against Caldwell, who are two-and three-sport athletes who aren’t necessarily dominant in their soccer abilities,” said Branigan.
Caldwell received a solid effort in net from goaltender Thomas Healy. Despite giving up a few goals, the senior managed to collect six saves—including a number from point-blank range in the second half. His efforts are particularly impressive considering he has been battling a shoulder injury for most of the season.
“He’s kept us in a lot of good games, especially early on, so we’re thankful that he came out of this game injury-free,” said Branigan.
Caldwell elected to move senior Dan Cavallo into the midfield for Monday’s game, which hindered the team’s offensive ability and resulted in only three shots on goal. Cavallo has been a staple of the team’s offense thus far, with six goals on the season.
“He’s had a great run, he’s scored some nice goals…he’s been having a very good season,” said Branigan.
The loss drops the Caldwell squad to 4-5 on the season, as the team has lost four of its last five games.
In keeping true to his early-season theme, Branigan said he feels as though the team is merely a few healthy players away from being on the hunt for the conference. His goal is to get the team healthy by the time the State Tournament rolls around.
“The competition has been great, but it’s been the injuries,” he said. “We’re pulling guys every which way and trying to fill spots and for how things are 4-5 is relative I suppose for how things are. I’m hoping we get healthy on the back end start to mesh for a little bit of a run in the State Tournament.”
Caldwell will look to get back on the winning track as they take on Newark Academy on Wednesday.
“Any game in the Super Essex Conference is a battle to the end,” said Branigan.