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CBA claims sixth state soccer title in record season

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By Wayne Witkowski

Many of the 21 players on the Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) soccer team did not go to school Nov. 14 after scoring a 1-0 victory over Seton Hall Preparatory School late the previous night at Kean University for their first NJSIAA Non-Public A championship since 2011.

They were celebrating the most victories by a CBA team in a season and the most games played with a 24-1 record en route to their sixth state championship.

Many of them, mostly seniors, gathered later the day after the game to bring the trophy over to Dan Keane, who ended his 39-year Hall of Fame career at CBA after last season, which ended in a state championship loss to the Delbarton School.

“They wanted to bring to him the state championship trophy they promised to him last season but fell short and wanted him to have it for a little while,” said Tom Mulligan, who was elevated to the head coaching position after serving many years as assistant to Keane.

CBA lost two prior state championship showdowns with Seton Hall Prep in 2007 and 2009, but Matt Thorsheim made sure that didn’t happen again when he drilled home his 14th goal off a pass from Matt Mawson with seven minutes left, and goalkeeper Aedan Boriotti made it stand up with his 15th shutout.

Mulligan shied away from drawing comparisons of this team to any of the other five state championship winners.

“Each group sets itself apart,” Mulligan said. “In 2011, they were extremely talented, fast and skilled, and so is this team.”

That 2011 group was unbeaten, and Mulligan felt that a Shore Conference A North Division loss to Marlboro High School, 3-1, midseason did not diminish the caliber of this team at the end of the season.

CBA won the division at 13-1, and Marlboro was right behind at 12-1-1, with its only loss coming in the other game against CBA and a costly tie coming against Freehold Township High School to send the team down to second place.

But Mulligan felt something was to be gained from that loss, as CBA reeled off 10 straight victories from there with a 35-4 edge in scoring. CBA outscored its opponents, 90-14, on the season, which was another school record for goals scored.

“That loss may have been a blessing in disguise,” Mulligan said. “After that loss, we reminded the boys of their initial goal to play on Nov. 13. They had bigger goals in front of them.”

Patrick Kollman led CBA with 18 goals, and Thorsheim, in a testament to his selfless style that typified this team, led the way in assists with 22 despite his explosive ability to score.

“There were some tiring moments — playing three and four games in a week — and they were able to manage it, and there were guys extremely supportive coming off the bench,” Mulligan said. “You don’t work hard at something you don’t love to do. These players enjoyed playing with each other and had such a passion for the game, which made reaching the goal of winning a state championship so enjoyable. And their bringing the trophy to coach Keane shows what type of kids they are. They’re not self-centered but are for each other.”

For that reason, they had no problem adjusting to Mulligan’s own style of coaching that many times followed and other times departed from Keane’s approach.

“We talked a lot about trusting in each other, trusting in the coaches and trusting in the process,” Mulligan said.

That continues for those who will take the baton for next season, with 13 players graduating and eight returning along with others coming up from high-powered junior varsity and freshman teams at CBA. The gold standard is set, and Mulligan expressed confidence that this returning group is inspired to carry it onward.

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