WEST ORANGE, NJ – At Seton Hall Prep, the two sports programs that Pirate fans expect to do well every year, are basketball and baseball. Both squads have won countless conference, county and state titles.
Another sport that is close to those two is soccer. Marty Berman, who competed for the late Gene Chyzowych at Columbia High School in the late 1960s, has led SHP to great success in his 31 years at the helm. Going into the 2017 campaign, Berman has compiled a record of 425-183-55. A year ago, SHP went 19-3-2 and reached the championship games in both the Essex County Tournament and states. Forward Mason Toye, who had 21 goals and 12 assists, was regarded by many people as the top player in the state. He’s now playing in college at Indiana University.
Despite the loss of Toye, Berman feels that this year’s team is a strong contender for conference, county and state honors.
“All our kids are very skilled in the game,” said Berman, “and we really are quite deep. I’m very excited about our chances this fall.”
The Pirates will be challenged because they play a very competitive schedule. Along with traditional Essex County powers like Livingston, Montclair and West Orange, SHP will also tangle with the likes of Kearny, The Hill School (Pa.) and South Kent School (Conn.), the reigning national Prep School champs.
For local fans, the big game will be the one against town neighbor West Orange on the afternoon of Oct. 9 at WOHS. Doug Nevins, the WOHS head coach, played for Berman at SHP. A year ago, the two teams battled to a scoreless tie.
“Doug has done a great job at West Orange,” praised Berman. “Our rivalry is like the one we had when Coach Chyzowych was at Columbia.”
This fall, the Cougars will meet SHP on Oct. 2 at the new turf field at the Kelly Athletic Complex at Brendan P. Tevlin Field.
On this year’s team, the key player is expected to be senior forward Michael Pavick. In 2016 the youngster was easily the second best player for the Pirates.
“Mike has all the tools for the game,” said Berman, who is just one of several outstanding coaches that Chyzowych developed at Columbia. “He’s a strong kid, he’s very fast on the field, and his skills are superb. He’s already committed to Bucknell (University).”
Up front, another player to watch for the Pirates will be sophomore Aidan Dunphy. Last fall he was a standout for the Freshman Team, seemingly scoring goals at will.
“Aidan reads the game exceptionally well,” said Berman, whose team fell to Christian Brothers Academy, 1-0, in the 2016 Non-Public A state finals. “He’s very quick and displays great technical skills. It’s going to be fun to watch him progress over the next three seasons.”
Another dangerous player up front for SHP should be junior Jon Ned.
In the midfield, always a key spot for any team, the Pirates will look to a kid from West Orange, senior Nick Kriak. According to Berman, no one on the team works any harder on the pitch. And like Pavick and Dunphy, he’s a very skilled performer.
Other players to watch in the midfield will be the Silva brothers, Adam and Paul, Joe Kearns and Brian Zimmermann.
On the defensive front, SHP has a real good one in junior goalie Liam Bertrand.
“Liam has great command of the game,” said Berman. “All the guys on the team really respect him, because he’s our field general.”
Supporting Bertrand, who had some big saves in the West Orange game in 2016, will be backs Rocco Capozza, Jason Gomes (coming back from an ACL injury) and Max Engelbrechtsen.
“Max is a very solid player,” said Berman, who ranks with Dave Masur (St. John’s University) and Dave Donovan (Delbarton School) as the top coaches produced by Chyzowych during his long and successful tenure at Columbia. “What I particularly like about Max, is that he’s superb in the air.”
Berman, who briefly worked as a sportswriter for The Star-Ledger in the late 1970s, feels a good start will be a big confidence builder for the team. This month the Pirates will face such quality teams as Hill School, Montclair and Livingston. The season opener was scheduled to take place at East Side on Sept. 6 in Newark. In the 2016 ECT final, East Side beat the Pirates, 4-0.
“We played better than the score indicated,” Berman remarked.
Berman, who had tremendous respect for Chyzowych because “he was such as teacher of the game,” feels that SHP’s tradition in soccer will always be a key factor for the team.
“These guys want to be successful,” said Berman. “No matter what happens, I enjoy being around them because they’re great kids.”
CORNER KICKS – Berman has led the Pirates to 24 championships in 31 years, including four ECT crowns and two Non-Public A state titles… Probably the top players that Chyzowych coahed at CHS were Masur, Donovan, Elson Seale and Dave Brienza.
Sept. 6, at Newark East Side, 4 p.m.
Sept. 9, at Summit, 11 a.m.
Sept. 11, West Essex, 4 p.m.
Sept. 13, East Orange Campus, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15, Dickinson of Jersey City, 5 p.m.
Sept. 17, Mainline HS Jamboree, at United Sports Training Ctr., Downington, Pa., vs. The Hill School (Pottstown, Pa.), 11 a.m.
Sept. 18, at Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.
Sept. 20, at North Plainfield, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22, Montclair, 4 p.m.
Sept. 25, at Caldwell, 6 p.m.
Sept. 27, at Livingston, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29, Newark Central, 4 p.m.
Oct. 2, Columbia, 4 p.m.
Oct. 4, Millburn, 4 p.m.
Oct. 6, Kearny, 4 p.m.
Oct. 9, at West Orange, 4 p.m.
Oct. 11, at Nutley, 4 p.m.
Oct. 13, South Kent School (Conn.), 4 p.m.