Kardinals shoot for another state sectional crown
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The Kearny High School boys’ soccer team enjoyed a season to remember in 2011, capped by winning the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV championship, the first state sectional title under the tutelage of head coach Bill Galka.
Although most of the players on that highly successful 18-6-1 squad have graduated, Galka is confident that the Kardinals have enough younger players to step in and lead the way.
“We had a great year last year and that’s something we always strive for,” Galka said.
“We did have a big turnover. For the most part, we only have two returning starters back. But we will use winning the state title as a reference point. We have some goals in mind. We’ll be able to do things with hard work.”
Galka said that he was pleased with what he’s seen during the preseason.
“We’re pretty happy so far,” Galka said. “We’ve seen some good things even with the large turnover. I’m getting a good handle on what we have. The kids have a good soccer IQ. We’ve done some good things in the scrimmages. We’re going to be a work in progress, no question. We’re going to have a lot of young guys on the field. They’re going to get quality playing time.”
The Kardinals are utilizing two players in goal, namely senior Cristian Vidreiro and talented sophomore Sebastian Ferriera.
“Cristian has been competing well and Sebastian has all the tools,” Galka said.
The Kardinals are abandoning the sweeper/stopper formation and will go four across instead.
The two center backs are senior Joao Parreiras and returning starter Gabriel Freitas.
“They have a good understanding together,” Galka said. “We have good experience back there and they’re very good with the ball.”
Junior Michael Dias is one of the other defenders and Galka likes the way Dias developed. The other defender is senior David Villafuerte, who has a lot of potential and skill.
The midfield features sophomore Danny Vicente, who saw a lot of action last year during the Kards’ state playoff run.
Senior Lucas Rocha has returned to the Kearny program after attending another school in North Bergen for two years, but did not play soccer. Rocha will also be part of the mix in the Kearny midfield.
The Kards took a major hit when talented Marcelo Borges was taken by the New York Red Bulls Academy, but they do have skilled freshman Marcelo Matta in the midfield, along with returning starter Angel Gonzalez, a senior, and sophomore Alexi Velasquez.
“Our midfield play has been pretty solid,” Galka said.
The Kards are going to miss the 27 goals provided by All-State performer Junior Batista, but Galka hopes to get that kind of scoring from three talented forwards.
“We’re hoping that they can make up for the goals that we lose with Batista graduating,” Galka said. “They do have a lot of promise.”
Junior Andres Pesantez got some good playing time last year and scored a handful of goals. He will be counted on to lead the way in the scoring department this season.
Fabricio DaSilva is a transfer from Brazil who comes to Kearny with a world of skill.
“He is a good target with good size and strength,” Galka said. “He’s a good player.”
The other forward is junior Kevin Tapia, who has excellent quickness and a nose for the ball.
The Kardinals open their season Sept. 6 against Memorial.
“I think this is going to be a different team,” Galka said. “But we have enough skilled players. We’re certainly going to be competitive from what I’ve seen. They have a good understanding of the game. We just need them to get to be together on the same page. If we do that, then we have a chance to be a pretty good team.”
And a team that should once again challenge for Hudson County and NJSIAA Group IV honors. Keep an eye on the Kardinals. They’ll be fun to watch once again.