WASHINGTON TWP. – It was not the ending the St. Augustine Prep boys soccer team had been hoping for, but neither was it a disappointing season, according to both coaches and players.
The winners of this season’s prestigious South Jersey Coaches Association championship, the Hermits saw their bid for a state championship come to an end Thursday.
The Hermits got a lone goal from Antonio Matos in the second half, but fell to Christian Brothers Academy 4-1 in the Non-Public State South Jersey championship game played at Washington Township High School.
It was an emotional loss for a team that finished 17-5-3 and with its highest win total since the squad captured a state championship in 2010.
But they tried to put a philosophical spin on the outcome.
“It’s a game of touches and a game of bounces,” said Justin Tana, one of the team’s captains. “We had a game this year in the Coaches Cup where everything went our way, but this time things didn’t go our way. I’m happy the season turned it as it was, although it was disappointing in the end.”
Fellow captain Colby Rumpf said the team was able to accomplish a couple of goals the players set this year.
“We just missed out on this last one,” he said. “Christian Brothers is a good side, and we just couldn’t convert on our chances. We had opportunities, but we couldn’t find the net.”
St. Augustine coach Steve Rolando stressed that his players, especially his seniors, should leave the field with their heads up.
“We had a proud season,” he said. “It started with our senior leadership. Our seniors were fantastic and they had much to contribute. They proved to be a top program throughout South Jersey this year.
However, the coach credited Christian Brothers with putting a lot of pressure on his team, making if difficult for the Hermits to stay in the game.
“They’re just have a lot of talent,” he said. “They’re a well coached team. They distribute the ball quite well and when the go forward, the go forward as a group.. They’re very composed as opposed to some other teams we face throughout the year.”
Joe Lozowski led Christian brothers with two goals for the game. He got his team on the board when he converted a scramble off a corner kick into the top of the net with 3:40 to play in the first half.
Jack Gill then gave Christian Brothers a 2-0 lead with a goal early in the second half, but it was Liam Mulvey who supplied the backbreaker.
St. Augustine managed to cut the deficit to one goal when Matos scored with an assist from Patrick Doherty with 26:13 to play in the game.
But it took only a little more than two minutes for Christian Brothers to regain its two-goal lead when Mulvey connected.
“That hurt,” Rolando said. “We were going to just change shapes a little bit to give them a little more offensive pressure. I knew if we did that were were going to fall out of our comfort zone defensively, and they came back.”
Despite going down by two goals again, however, the St. Augustine players kept pressing, trying desperately to get back into the game. But the Hermits couldn’t find a way back.
“That (Mulvey) goal could be seen on paper as crushing,” Tana said. “But we kept pressing to get back into it. Even with three minutes to go we were still fighting. That’s just who we are as a team.”
But as the game went into the final minutes, Christian Brothers added the goal that closed the door when Lozowski scored his second goal to push the lead to 4-1.
At that point both coaches emptied their benches and the subs for both teams closed out the game.
S.J. Non-Public A Championship
Christian Brothers 1 3-4
St. Augustine 0 1-1
Goals: SA: Antonio Matos. CBA: Joe Lozowski 2, Liam Mulvey, Jack Gill. Saves: Anthony Libero, SA, 7, Eric Wnorowski, CBA, 5.