There is nothing innovative about the support provided by the J.P. Stevens
High School boys soccer parent group, but head coach Bill McMullen contends their work is indispensable.
“The parents help maintain a positive and supportive environment,” McMullen said. “They do that very well. We’re fortunate to have parents as active as they are.”
Positive reinforcement is certainly what J.P. Stevens needs because of how this season is unwinding. The Hawks are 1-5 in Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Red Division play, with the lone win coming against North Brunswick Township High School. This follows three seasons during which J.P. Stevens finished .500 or better, including a 14-3 record in 2013. The Hawks are next home to Old Bridge High School Sept. 24, and at North Brunswick Sept. 26.
Senior Alex Corrigan is the leading scorer with six goals and two assists, and junior Sayak Ghosh has two goals. Junior center midfielder Ryan Minor is the assist leader with six to go along with one goal.
Junior Paul Trevidic and senior Anthony Castelo play important roles as central defenders, and freshman Austin John has shown enough skill to earn the start at midfield. Max Glinn has registered 57 saves as goaltender.
The parents’ support group is named Back of the Net and has performed numerous behind-the-scenes projects for nearly as long as J.P. Stevens has played soccer. President
Angela Corrigan said the club’s mission has always remained the same.
“We have about 60 families involved in multiple activities, and we’re guided by the principle that soccer should be fun, on and off the field,” Corrigan said.
Alex Corrigan’s mother points out the support of Board of Education members and the coaches have been essential in helping Back of the Net complete its work.
The group sponsors projects such as collecting canned goods in front of grocery stores that are donated to area food banks and organizing fundraisers like selling chocolate bars, sponsoring the always-popular car wash and running a snack bar during games.
Money raised offset expenses so players can attend the postseason awards banquet, see a Major League Soccer Red Bulls game including a pregame barbecue with players and their families, contribute college scholarship money for seniors and finance pizza parties after games.
Back of the Net also organizes EATS, a series of team meals hosted by parents the night before games. Another important event is arranging a township recreationsponsored soccer clinic for 200-plus youngsters at the Spencer Rockman Complex, where players provide instruction.
The St. Joseph of Metuchen High School boys soccer team is 1-3 in the Red Division and 1-3-1 overall, but that’s pretty much par for the course with the Falcons. With few exceptions, St. Joe’s has a history of starting slow and finishing strong because the lineup features so many new faces.
An example is last year when the Falcons ended September with a 5-3-2 record but completed the rest of the regular GMC season unbeaten and made the conference tournament championship game before dropping a 2-1 decision to Monroe Township High School.
The seniors on the roster are center middle Chris Taraska; defenders Kyle Duggan, Tom Summers and Colm Sullivan; forward Michael Echeverria; and midfielder Mark Kim. The juniors are goalkeepers Gurjivan Kalkat and Christian Pomponio and midfielder Owen Donnelly. The sophomores are defenders Matt Pinho and Ryan Brede, midfielders Tour’e Reaves and Zack Riviere and forward Nick Cruz.
St. Joe’s could receive a boost to the lineup if standout basketball player Breein Tyree joins the team later in the season. According to head coach Brian Jenkins, if Tyree makes a college commitment to play basketball before the soccer season ends, he may use his athletic skills to help the Falcons.
Jenkins said he has been particularly pleased with the overall play of Kim, who was thought to be a role player coming into the season but has played significant minutes.
How the Falcons fare in their next four matches will determine whether they can contend for the Red Division crown. St. Joe’s visited East Brunswick High School (4-1 division, 4-1 overall) Sept. 21 and travel to Monroe Township (5-0 division, 6- 0 overall) Sept. 24. They are home to Old Bridge (4-0 division, 5-1 overall) Sept. 26 and South Brunswick High School (3-2 division, 4-2 overall) Sept. 29.