Tuesday, June 20, 2017
By Richie 'Ballgame' Barton
NJS.com Staff Writer
Male Athlete of the Season:
Sebastian Varela, Ramapo Soccer
Varela has improved each year since bursting onto the New Jersey soccer landscape by scoring the game-winning goal in the Bergen County Tournament final as a freshman. But with even more talent around him entering his junior year, opposing defenses had to pick their poison as to whom to key on. That gave Varela more room to operate in the midfield and he emerged as North Jersey’s premier playmaker.
Varela was as consistent as they come in helping the Green Raiders find the back of the net. The bigger the game, the better he played. In the Bergen County final against Pascack Valley, the game went to overtime and appeared headed for a second overtime before Varela ended it. Off of a deflected header, he volleyed a shot inside the post to give Ramapo a third straight Bergen County title with a 2-1 win. Although that seemed like quite the highlight, it was merely an opening act for a fantastic state tournament run.
Just nine days after beating PV with that Golden Goal, Varela did it to the Indians again with a game-winner in a North 1, Group 3 state sectional tournament win. He also assisted on a Golden Goal in overtime of the section final to set the stage for his best game of the season.
Varela was involved in every aspect of the game an accounted for all three goals, scoring twice and assisting on the othe, in the Group 3 state final as Ramapo finished off a perfect season with a 3-0 win over Toms River South. He finished with 20 goals and 17 assists, having notched at least a goal or an assist in all but three of the Green Raiders’ games.
Louis Acceus, St. Joseph Regional Football
Acceus finished the season with 101 tackles, 14 for loss, and 6.5 sacks, leading the Green Knights in all three categories. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior showed he was no one-trick pony as he was also a bruising running back that knew what to do around the goal line.
Acceus had over 800 yards rushing on the year with nine TDs, including three straight games (Friendship Collegiate, St. Peter’s Prep, Paramus Catholic) where he found the end zone twice.
After a long recruiting process, Acceus will continue playing football this coming fall at North Carolina State.
Johnathan Lewis, St. Peter’s Prep Football
Ryan Miller, Pascack Valley Soccer
Brendan DeVera, Wayne Hills Football
Vinnie DePalma, DePaul Football
Miles Franklyn, Bergen Catholic Soccer
Joshua Fedd-Jackson, St. Joseph Regional Football
Josh Ulin, Pascack Valley Soccer
Ben Petrula, St. Peter’s Prep Football
Female Athlete of the Season:
Andrea Cerdan, Paramus Catholic Tennis
After a straight-set loss in the NJSIAA quarterfinals to eventual state singles champion Stephanie Schrage of Millburn ending her freshman season, Cerdan knew she had to work harder than ever before to take her game to the next level.
She put in six to eight hours a day in the off-season honing her craft and diversifying her game so that when her sophomore year rolled around she would be ready for one of, if not the, greatest seasons ever by a New Jersey girls’ tennis player.
Cerdan had her serve broken just twice the entire season. After getting past fellow sophomore sensation Ashley Hess of Holy Angels in the Bergen County Singles Tournament, Cerdan set her sights on being a state singles champion.
Even against a stacked field, Cerdan ripped her way through to the final where she faced none other than the last person who beat her in a Paramus Catholic uniform, Schrage.
Cerdan showed Schrage, herself, and the rest of New Jersey how much she she had improved in just one year. Cerdan took control early and never looked back, scoring early breaks of serve in both sets en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory to cap a perfect season with a state singles title.
Eva Hurm, Northern Highlands Soccer
Hurm has been a nightmare for the opposition ever since her freshman year. Her blazing speed and knack for making the right play were luxuries for the talented Highlander side. As the season wore on into county and state tournament play and playing without injured star sweeper Julia Homan, the Highlanders leaned their senior captain and Hurm delivered when her team needed it most.
She assisted on both goals, including the game-winner in overtime off of a corner kick, as Northern Highlands beat archrival Ramapo, 2-1, in the Bergen County semifinals on the way to a record 13th Bergen County title.
The state tournament was more of the same. In the North 1, Group 3 quarterfinals against a pesky Northern Valley/Old Tappan side, Hurm chipped the ball over the keeper and in to cap a 3-1 win. A week later she notched a hat trick in the first half alone to give the Highlanders a seventh straight section title.
The Highlanders were down 2-0 in the Group 3 semifinals when Hurm turned on the afterburners. Hurm, who will play at Notre Dame this coming fall, scored two goals and had an assist in the second half en route to a wild 4-3 win. She finished with 21 goals and eight assists on the year.
Samantha Gioiosa, Bogota Volleyball
Julia Morris, IHA Volleyball
Sarah Jordan, Mahwah Soccer
Kassidy Shetler, Ramsey Field Hockey
Hannah Frascella, Hawthorne Volleyball
Rachel Sorkenn, River Dell Soccer
Maya Illovsky, Old Tappan Volleyball
Elena Montgomery, Ramapo Volleyball
Gabby Pontone, Northern Highlands Field Hockey
Julia Passante, Old Tappan Volleyball
Olivia Kraebel, Ramapo Soccer
Boys’ Team of the Season:
RAMAPO'S CLASS OF 2017
With skilled players up top, a bevy of talented ball distributors in the midfield, an athletic back line in front of a solid keeper, Ramapo had all the pieces in place to be a successful side.
The question was how quickly those players would jell together as a unit. That answer came swiftly and emphatically as Ramapo got off to a fast start and rode that wave all the way to a Group 3 state championship.
The Green Raiders outscored their first 13 opponents by a whopping 44-2 margin before facing tests in both county and state tournament play.
Down 1-0 at half on three separate occasions, Ramapo dug deep and found a way to pull out crucial wins to secure the Triple Crown: Bergen County, North 1, Group 3 sectional and Group 3 state titles with a final record of 22-0.
The Maroons have had a solid football program for decades, but getting over the hump in a rugged North 1, Group 5 state sectional tournament bracket has been tough. The Maroons watched Passaic County Tech celebrate the 2015 championship after losing to the Bulldogs, 27-0, in the final at MetLife Stadium.
It was a loss that drove the Maroons the entire off-season and helped them get off to a strong start in 2016. A rock solid defense was the backbone for their success as Ridgewood had a stretch of seven straight game in which it allowed seven points or less. That was a springboard into the state tournament where the Maroons beat West Orange handily before scoring a quality win over Montclair to get a long-awaited rematch with PCT.
All their hard work both in the weight room during the summer and throughout the season was geared for one game. Ridgewood came up big late with a one-yard TD plunge by University of Miami-bound Zach Feagles and a two-point conversion catch by Colsten Smith that proved to be the difference in a 14-13 victory for the North 1, Group 5 state title. Ridgewood finished the year a perfect 12-0 and the title was its first since 2004.
St. Joseph Regional Football
Hasbrouck Heights Football
Pascack Valley Soccer
River Dell Football
Paramus Catholic Football
St. Peter’s Prep Soccer
Girls’ Team of the Season:
Northern Valley/Old Tappan Volleyball
NV/OLD TAPPAN VOLLEBALL
After graduating four seniors from the Northern Valley/Old Tappan’s rotation that went 26-0 and won the Tournament of Champions title, it was expected that the Golden Knights would take a step back.
Holdovers Maya Illovsky, Julia Passante and libero Kelly Chen knew that there was a standard to uphold. They were the catalysts as the Golden Knights won back-to-back three-set thrillers over Northern Valley/Demarest and Ramapo. After setting the tone as still the team to beat in Bergen County, Old Tappan took everyone’s best shot and came out the victor until a shocking loss could have easily shaken up the psyche of the team.
Old Tappan got swept by eventual Bergen County champ River Dell in the Bergen County Tournament semifinals, including a 25-8 romp in the second game.
The Golden Knights bounced back and then some by focusing their attention on winning Group 3 and getting a chance to defend their Tournament of Champions crown.
Becky Chu ran the offense with precision throughout the state tournament as Old Tappan dropped just one game on its way to a Group 3 state championship and a berth in the Tournament of Champions final against Immaculate Heart Academy.
After dropping Game 1, Old Tappan showed its heart and by not only responding to even the match but by fighting off two match points in the third and deciding game before junior Alexandra Trouilloud’s tip for a kill gave the Golden Knights back-to-back T of C titles with a 17-25, 25-20, 29-27 win and finish the season with a 24-1 record.
Northern Highlands Soccer
NO. HIGHLANDS SOCCER
Northern Highlands seemed to have everything clicking early on in the season with a remarkable 13 straight shutouts to begin the year. But when All-American sweeper Julia Homan went down with a season-ending injury, adjustments had to be made and younger players had to step up.
After letting a halftime lead slip away against Ramapo in a 2-1 loss, the Highlanders needed some fine-tuning.
Defense reigned supreme in the Bergen County final against Ridgewood as senior backs Katelyn Ewell and Riley Cedro along with junior Shannen Almenara and sophomore Olivia Homan dominated the defensive third of the field in a 1-0 win.
The state tournament presented some challenges but the Highlanders overpowered the opposition all the way until the Group 3 semifinals when they faced a two-goal deficit against Hopewell Valley early in the second half.
It took all of nine minutes to erase the worry as goals from Eva Hurm, Joanna Kelly, and Claudia DiPasupil all scored before Hurm added a necessary insurance strike in a 4-3 victory. The Highlanders (21-1-1) fell just short of their ultimate goal but were able to settle for being state co-champions after a scoreless tie with Wall in the Group 3 final.