Harrison soccer, Lyndhurst baseball top the list
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The calendar year 2013 provided plenty of thrilling moments for local sports fans. It’s very hard to organize all those events, then slice them to down to a precise 10 and then finally rank them.
So we will do our best once again to provide The Observer Top 10 Sports Stories for 2013.
Harrison wins state sectional soccer title; Sowe earns All-America honors
The Harrison boys’ soccer team enjoyed a sensational season, tying a school record with 22 wins, losing just once and capturing both the Hudson County Tournament and the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II championship. The only blemish on the great season was the loss to Newton, 2-1, in the overall NJSIAA Group II semifinals.
Other than that, it was a year to remember, capped by defender Modou Sowe being selected as an All-American, the first ever Blue Tide player to receive the honor. Sowe had an astounding 19 goals as a defender, a total almost unheard of, except that Sowe tallied 20 goals a year ago. He leaves a legacy as one of the greatest all-around talents at a school with an impressive ledger of great players.
Lyndhurst baseball team wins state sectional; Servideo earns 500th win
It was a great year for the Lyndhurst baseball team, perhaps one of the most surprising seasons any local school has enjoyed in any sport for many years. Before the season, veteran head coach Butch Servideo thought he had to rebuild his entire team, losing six starters and three top pitchers from the 21-win team the year before.
But the Golden Bears surprised everyone by winning 23 games, including the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II title by defeating Garfield, 8-7, scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh to win it, after surrendering six runs in the top of the seventh. It was Lyndhurst’s first state sectional title since 2008. During the season, Servideo reached an impressive milestone, collecting the 500th win of his storied career.
Nutley wrestling wins Essex County and NJSIAA District 14 titles for second straight year
After the Nutley wrestling team won the Essex County Tournament and the NJSIAA in 2012, one might think it would be tough to duplicate the feat, especially since many of the Maroon Raiders’ top wrestlers had graduated.
Guess again. The Maroon Raiders won four individual titles at the county tournament at the Codey Arena last January, including senior Bobby Trombetta, who won the fourth ECT title of his career, becoming the first Maroon Raider grappler to win four county crowns. Trombetta overcame a shoulder injury to wrestle at the county tourney.
Sophomore Anthony DeLorenzo, senior Brandon Keena and sophomore Vin Mainiero also won county crowns for the Maroon Raiders.
At the District 14 tourney in February, the Maroon Raiders crowned six champions, with Trombetta winning his third District 14 gold medal, DeLorenzo and Keena winning their second straight District crown, Mainiero winning District gold as well, along with Stephen Scuttaro and Peter Burbank.
Trombetta ended his season with an eighth place medal at 120 pounds, wrestling most of the season with a torn muscle in his shoulder. He ended his career with 141 career wins, tops in Nutley history, and earned three medals at the state tournament.
Nutley’s Papaccio drafted by Chicago Cubs, signs and plays minor league baseball
It was a year to remember for Nutley native and former Seton Hall shortstop Guiseppe Papaccio. It started with a stellar senior year at Seton Hall, where Papaccio batted .365, broke school records for doubles in a season and in a career, and drove in 53 runs, one of the top totals in the Big East. He was named the New Jersey College Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year.
Papaccio was then drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 18th round of the MLB Free Agent Amateur Draft and spent most of the summer playing for Kane County in the Midwest League (Class A). Papaccio batted .279 with two homers and 13 RBI in 37 games for Kane County, but he will head to the Cubs’ spring training complex in Arizona in February to continue his professional career.
QP’s Momnohin goes for 2,000 yards, setting school record
Queen of Peace football standout Kevin Momnohin had a season to remember, rushing for 2,069 yards and scoring 33 touchdowns, setting new school records in the process. The totals were among the best ever in northern New Jersey history and enabled Momnohin to earn All-Bergen County and All- State honors. Momnohin led the Golden Griffins to a berth in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 1 state playoffs and a first-round victory over St. Anthony. Momnohin was also a standout in track and field last spring, earning four medals at the NJSIAA Non-Public B state sectional championships.
Red Bulls win MLS Supporters’ Shield as top regular season squad
It was a great year – at least in the regular season – for the New York Red Bulls, who electrified fans at Red Bull Arena in Harrison to the tune of 17 regular season wins and the MLS Supporters’ Shield as the team with the best regular season record. It was the first title of any kind in the 18-year history of the franchise.
It was an impressive first year for head coach Mike Petke, a former standout player for both the MetroStars and Red Bulls franchises. The only downside to the Red Bulls’ season was the first-round exit in the MLS playoffs.
QP’s Rozalski sisters both earn medals in pole vault at NJSIAA indoor
Meet of Champions It was the last time that the Rozalski sisters, namely senior Michele and sophomore Kas, got the chance to compete together as track and field teammates and the Queen of Peace pole vault queens didn’t disappoint, as both earned medals at the NJSIAA indoor Meet of Champions at the Bennett Center in Toms River last February. Michele finished fifth and sister Kas was sixth at the overall state indoor track championships, quite an accomplishment considering QP does not field a full team for indoor track.
Kearny girls win both indoor and cross country Hudson County titles
The calendar year of 2013 was a great one for the Kearny girls’ track and field program. In the winter months, the Kardinals managed to capture the Hudson County Track Coaches Association championship, the school’s first indoor county championship since 1992. Senior Haley Durning was the main cog, winning the 55-meter hurdles and the high jump and finishing second in the long jump, compiling 28 of the team’s 73 team points. In the fall, the Kardinals captured the HCTCA title, the school’s first since 2009, thanks to the leadership of seniors Aislinn Sroczynski and Erika Alzamora. It made it definitely a year to remember for Kearny coaches Al Perez (track and field) and Jim Cifelli (cross country).
Lyndhurst wins NJSIAA North 2, Group I cross country title
After former Observer Male Athlete of the Year Patrick Rono ran off to the University of Arkansas upon graduation in 2011, it was believed that Lyndhurst would never again reach the standards that were set while Rono was a Golden Bear. However, that has not been the case and the 2013 version of the Golden Bears’ cross country team managed to win the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state sectional championship, the first state title since the Ronoled Golden Bears captured the title in 2010. Andre Francisco (second overall) and William Hooper (fourth) were the leaders of the state sectional championship parade for the Golden Bears.
Nutley East Little League goes to Little League state championships
It was a summer to remember for the 12-year-old Little League All-Stars from the Nutley East Little League, which won both the District 8 and Section 2 championships en route to the overall New Jersey Little League state championships in Wallington. It was the first time that Nutley East went to the state championships since 2009 and only the third time since 1982. Josh O’Neill was one of the stars of the team, striking out an astonishing 15 during the Section 2 clincher over Teaneck Southern. Danny Caraballo was another standout pitcher on the team. Natalia Buscanan, the lone girl to compete in the state tournament, overcame several heart surgeries as an infant to play on the Nutley East squad.
Just missed list
Here are some other newsworthy sports stories that just missed making the top 10:
Riverside County Park got a major overhaul, including three new state-of-the-art athletic fields. The main football field became the home for both North Arlington and Queen of Peace last fall.
Queen of Peace renamed its field after the late legendary coach Ralph Borgess.
Lyndhurst had two bowlers throw perfect 300 games in Jordan Lopez and Ryan Donohue.
Kearny basketball standout Dylan Hoch scored a school-record 49 points in a game against McNair Academic and ended his career with more than 1,000 points.
The Nutley hockey team won 17 games, best in school history, thanks to the exploits of Dave Fierro (28 goals) and goaltender Alec Astorga.
The Belleville baseball team enjoyed its best season in recent memory, reaching the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV championship game before falling to Randolph.
Camila Alonso of Lyndhurst scored a school-record 46 points in a single game, reached 1,000 points in her career in basketball and earned medals in the state sectionals in the javelin and discus, becoming The Observer Female Athlete of the Year in the process.
Kearny’s Tomasz Adamek returned to the ring and defeated Dominick Guinn in August, the first fight for the heavyweight contender in seven months.
All in all, it was a great year for local sports, highlighted by the top 10 stories of the year.