Kearny girls’ soccer wins 10th straight Hudson County title

Can you say the word dynasty?

Well, that’s exactly what the Kearny High School girls’ soccer team has established.

There’s no doubt that the Kardinals have a dynasty when it comes to where they are in Hudson County annals. They own a dynasty.

Their fate was cemented last week, when the Kardinals defeated Bayonne, 5-0, to win their 10th straight Hudson County Tournament championship.

No other team has won the county tourney title.

The Kardinals have never lost a game at all in Hudson County, dating back to the breakup of the old Watchung Conference, where the Kardinals resided, to the formation of the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League and subsequently the Hudson County tourney.

“It really is amazing,” said Kearny head coach Stefanee Pace Kivlehan. “When you think about it, it’s pretty wild. When the tournament started, the girls all stepped up and became different players. They’re all super competitive. They want to be the best team in the county. It was nice to see them all come together and play their best at the right time.”

Allison Canales scored two goals and Caitlyn Natosi added a goal and an assist for the winners, who proved that they could win a game when standout striker Skyler Matusz is kept off the scorebooks.

“Sky was pretty much marked heavily throughout,” Kivlehan said. “They didn’t give her an ounce. But we had others who stepped up. That’s what we needed. It was nice that the others stepped up.”

Natosi said that there was a lot of pressure on the Kardinals to keep the long winning streak intact.

“But we’ve been playing well together,” Natosi said. “There was a lot of pressure on us, but once we got to the finals, we knew we could win. We were really happy and we showed people what we can do. We acted like it was a regular game. I just wanted to try my hardest and not stop playing hard until the 90th minute (the game’s end).”

Canales also addressed the winning streak.

“Everyone knew about it,” Canales said. “Sure, there was a lot of pressure, but we managed pretty well. But it was difficult. We just had the opportunity to keep the tradition going.”

Canales said that the Kardinals are playing well as a team.

“I think we’ve definitely improved,” Canales said. “We’re staying together as a team. We’re doing things together off the field. We’ve had pasta parties and movie nights. We just went to another player’s house and saw a scary movie together. I think it brings our relationships together.”

Canales said that the bonding off the field has been transformed onto the field.

“We have been doing the little things, like winning the 50/50 balls,” Canales said. “I’m now looking for the ball all the time and going to goal. I think we’re all getting better where to put the ball. It’s made things easier for me.”

The Kardinals had no rest for the weary, as they were scheduled to face Clifton in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state tournament Tuesday.

“It was a great feeling after they blew the whistle and knew that we were able to keep the tradition going,” Natosi said. “But we knew we had to get back to work and face Clifton.”

Kivlehan loves the way Natosi plays.

“She’s throwing her body around and gets the 50/50 balls,” Kivlehan said. “Her work ethic is phenomenal. She was a workhorse last year, but this year, everything about her game has gotten better. I hope what she does is becoming contagious.”

Kivlehan notices the camaraderie.

“The way they all get along is really making a difference,” Kivlehan said. “We have a really good group of girls.”

It was an especially trying season, considering that Kivlehan became a mother for the first time during the season, giving birth to her daughter last month.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Kivlehan said. “But I was back coaching after a week and a half. My assistant Kevin Santos did a great job stepping in and Ana Sanchez and Stefanie Gomes (the other assistants) all rallied together to help out. I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Cat Canaley made six saves in goal for the clean sheet shutout for the winners.




The Kearny girls’ soccer team celebrates winning their 10th straight Hudson County Tournament championship, defeating Bayonne, 5-0. Photo courtesy of Stefanee Pace Kivlehan


The Kearny girls’ soccer team has been bolstered by the play of Caitlyn Narosi (left) and Allison Canales (right). Canales had two goals and Natosi a goal and an assist in the county title game last week. Photos by Jim Hague



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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
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Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”