For the first time in school history, an athletic program at Gill St. Bernard’s has claimed back-to-back state championships.
The boys’ soccer program accomplished this feat by winning its second-straight Non-Public B State title, and fifth overall, after defeating Moorestown Friends yesterday at Kean University, 3-0.
“I give the boys so much credit,” said head coach Tony Bednarsky. “There was a lot of pressure for them to repeat, and even the coaches felt that pressure, so if we were anxious, then we knew the kids must have been, but they embraced that challenge and came out on top.”
If the Knights were nervous at all, they did a great job hiding it, as they came out fast and aggressive against the Foxes. Only five minutes into the competition, Micaah Garnette ’21 scored a beautiful goal off an Adam Berrocal ’21 assist, giving GSB an early 1-0 lead. 10 minutes later, Jordan Canica ’21 connected on a score off an assist from Nick Kovalenko ‘20, making it 2-0 at halftime.
Late in the second half, Garnette was pushed from behind on a breakaway play inside the box, resulting in a red card for Moorestown Friends and a penalty kick for Garnette. The standout junior was able to bury the ball in the back of the net, his 30th goal of the season – a Knights record, and sealing the 3-0 victory for Gill.
“What I was most proud of was the way in which we won this game,” said Bednarsky. “We really played so well in every aspect of the game. The offense was clicking, our defense was superb, our goalie Alex Borto ’22 made some early saves that if he does not make could really change complexion of the game. We put it all together and had a great performance.”
While winning the back-to-back title is historic, it was the final touch on a once-in-a-lifetime season for interscholastic athletics. It marked the fifth championship that the Knights won this year, as they had previously claimed the Skyland Conference Raritan Division, the Somerset County Championship, the Prep B title, the North, Non-Public B Sectional title, and now the State Championship.
“This was truly a dream season,” Bednarsky reflected. “It is incredibly rare to win five titles in one year, it has not happened in New Jersey soccer in a long, long time. It was a very tough road that involved beating a lot of great teams, and I could not have asked more from the boys.”