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Thygeson lifts CBA to 1-0 win over Seton Hall Prep in Non-Public A title match

Big-time players deliver big-time plays in the most important moments. That proved true for Christian Brothers Academy senior forward Will Thygeson during the 2022 state tournament when he returned from a hamstring injury as the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A state sectional soccer tournament began.

In the Non-Public A state sectional tournament championship match on Nov. 9 in Lincroft, Thygeson scored in the 68th minute to lift the Colts to a 1-0 victory over Saint Peter’s Prep of Jersey City.

The victory advanced CBA into the Non-Public A state tournament championship match on Nov. 12 at Franklin High School in Franklin Township, where Thygeson once again propelled the Colts to victory in grand style against Seton Hall Prep of West Orange. Thygeson knocked in the game-winning goal in the 77th minute to lift CBA its first state championship since 2018 with a 1-0 victory over Seton Hall Prep.

“It feels amazing,” Thygeson said. “To walk out of here with a win took a complete team effort. I’m so proud of every kid who was on the field and everyone who was cheering us on from the bench. I couldn’t be prouder of these boys.”

Junior midfielder Dimitry Corba set up Thygeson for the game-winning goal by sending a great pass upfield that Thygeson was able to control. Thygeson then outraced Seton Hall Prep defender Alex Oladapo to the box and fired a low strike into the net for his 11th goal of the season three minutes from the end of regulation time.

“To watch (the ball) finally hit the back of the net was a surreal moment,” Thygeson said. “It’s something I will never forget.”

Several weeks ago, Thygeson sat out the Shore Conference Tournament with his injury and watched his teammates step up to win the program’s 12th conference tournament title. He said he wanted to return the favor when he came back to play in the state tournament.

Senior Jack D’Eletto was battling an ankle injury during the state final against Seton Hall Prep. Thygeson said he told D’Eletto before the match he had his back and was going to repay his teammate for what D’Eletto did when he was out of action several weeks earlier.

Thygeson lived up to his promise with his game-winning goal and said, “I’m happy I was able to score a goal for (D’Eletto), the entire team and everybody who came out to support us.”

The Colts earned a bit of redemption after losing to Seton Hall Prep in the 2019 and 2021 Non-Public A state tournament championship matches.

“We wanted revenge when we saw we were matched up with Seton Hall Prep,” senior defenseman Charlie Paparella said. “Every person who played in last year’s game had that 2-0 loss in the back of their mind. It feels great.”

The last time CBA defeated Seton Hall Prep in the state final was 2016 when Coach Tom Mulligan was in his first year at the helm.

Since succeeding longtime coach Dan Keane, Mulligan has led the Colts to the state final six times and his teams have won three state crowns. The 2022 title is the eighth in program history.

“It’s always special to win (a state championship). It never gets old,” Mulligan said. “I told these guys they are a special group. They earned their way to this (state final) and they deserve everything they are going to get.”

CBA’s stout defense was a key against Seton Hall Prep. The Pirates were held scoreless for only the second time in 2022.

Anchored by junior goalkeeper Miles Gallagher, the defense this year consisted of Paparella, seniors Matt Koczan and Joe Lucignano, and juniors Lawrence Mancino and Christian DeOliveiro.

The Colts did not allow a goal during the state tournament. CBA allowed only seven goals in 20 matches in 2022.

“Our defense has been as good as any defense in the state,” Mulligan said. “Our defense has been our backbone this year.”

CBA (19-1) ends the campaign on a 19-match win streak after losing its season opener to Marlboro High School on Sept. 8.

In regard to championships, the Colts achieved all four of their team goals: winning the Shore Conference A North Division, the Shore Conference Tournament, the state sectional tournament title and the Non-Public A state tournament championship.

“It feels great to win everything. I’m so happy for our team,” Paparella said.

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