Prep’s soccer team rolling after slow start

MIGHTY MARAUDERS – The St. Peter’s Prep boys’ soccer team has reeled off six victories in a row heading into the Hudson County Tournament quarterfinals. From left are head coach Josh Jantas, Luc Smith, Michael Cortez, Chima Ohadike and Paul Kondratowicz.

The boys’ high school soccer season began with so much potential and promise for the Marauders of St. Peter’s Prep.
After all, the Marauders were ranked among the state’s Top 10 teams before the first match was even held in 2017. It was destined to be a year of greatness for the defending Hudson County Tournament champions.
But among the first few weeks of the new season, the Marauders had to handle a ton of adversity. There were unexpected losses to Kearny, Union City and Clifton among the first five matches.
“We were moving a couple of pieces around,” said veteran Prep head coach Josh Jantas. “We were missing people due to injury. We weren’t together as a group. We were disappointed with the three losses, but we also thought that we had some good scoring chances in those games.”
After losing to Clifton, Jantas started to see the light.
“I thought we did some really good things against Clifton,” Jantas said. “I think that game was the turning point. I thought it was a pretty good performance. I was pretty pleased with it. Since that game, we’ve had some really good practices. I thought we were finally in form. We’ve been able to keep the performances at a high level.”
Since the loss to Clifton, the Marauders have been downright unstoppable. They’ve won six games in a row, with the only blemish a 1-1 tie against county rival Kearny, which has yet to lose this season and is ranked No. 4 in the state, to improve the seasonal mark to 10-3-1.
The Marauders received the No. 3 seed in this year’s Hudson County Tournament and were slated to face Bayonne in the quarterfinals Thursday night after press time here.
“We’re keeping the performances at a high level,” Jantas said. “If we get our ‘A’ team effort, we’re going to be very tough to beat.”
The Marauders are fortunate to have transfer Ulises Rodriguez manning the goal.
Rodriguez, a transfer from St. Benedict’s Prep, has experience in the 17-and-under national team of Honduras.
“He’s very technically sound,” Jantas said of the junior. “He’s been making diving saves and is a good distributor of the ball. He also has great ability with his feet and that’s a nice dimension to have.”
The Marauders utilize the “four-across” approach of defense, with senior Chima Ohadike leading the way there.
“He’s been starting back there since he was a sophomore,” Jantas said. “He’s a big boy. He wins a lot of the 50-50 balls. He’s our leader on the back line.”
The rest of the back line is very untested, with newcomer juniors Jacob Brozon and Chris Tolkin and sophomore Kevin Diaz playing there. Diaz was an Academy level player last year and has returned to the high school ranks.
The Marauders are very talented in the midfield and forward lines.
Leading the way in the midfield is center midfielder Christian Arcos. The junior Arcos has been a mainstay in the Marauder midfield since he arrived at Grand and Warren.
“He’s been a starter since he was a freshman,” Jantas said. “He’s easily one of the best players in the state and next year, he has a chance to be the very best player in the state. He’s that gifted.”
Arcos has six goals and eight assists this season.
“And he’s missed four games,” Jantas said of Arcos. “He controls the game for us. A lot of our offense goes through him.”
Junior Kyle Hess and sophomore Matias Carrrion are the other two midfielders.
The Marauders utilize three forwards. Some teams would rather have more midfielders and only one striker, but Jantas likes his chances more with the firepower up top.
Leading the way is senior Paul Kondratowicz, who may be the very best player in Hudson County and he’s certainly the county’s most dangerous goal scorer.
Kondratowicz had 25 goals last year as a junior and already has 14 goals this season.
“Paul does a great job of finding open space,” Jantas said. “He’s also able to get off his shot all the time.”
Kondratowicz has not made a decision about where he will play college soccer, but he’s most certainly a scholarship player. He’s also an excellent student, so that’s why Stevens Tech is among the schools he is considering.
Senior Luc Smith is another standout forward.
“He’s been a varsity player for the last three years,” Jantas said. “He’s a gifted player, possibly our most gifted player. He’s also a good student and is one of the top 10 kids in his graduating class.”
Senior Michael Cortez is the other forward.
“He’s a dangerous player who is able to score goals from wherever he’s releasing the ball,” Jantas said. “He’s very dangerous getting the ball back in give-and-goes.”
The top player off the bench is sophomore Antonio Callegari, who has three goals and six assists playing either midfield or forward.
“Each of his goals have either won games or tied games,” Jantas said.
Jantas has always been a coach who uses his bench religiously and this year is no exception.
Junior Antonio Gigante and sophomore Oleg Prots are capable forwards, with juniors Colin Plunkett and Jonathan Torres backing up the back line.
Senior Victor Lopez is the backup goalkeeper. Lopez was a starter for many of the matches a year ago.
“He did a great job back there last year,” Jantas said. “He’s been very good for us.”
Unfortunately for Lopez, a world class goalie appeared at the Marauders’ doorstep, cutting into Lopez’s playing time.
The Marauders take their record into the Hudson County Tournament quarterfinals this week and hope that they advance to Sunday’s semifinals, possibly in a rematch against Union City at a site to be determined.
If the organizers want to put both semifinal games at the same location, with Kearny and Harrison being the other possible semifinal matchup, those games could very well be played at Bayonne’s Ahern Veterans Stadium.
For now, Jantas likes the way his team is finally playing. It took a few weeks, but the Marauders are well on their way.
“Certainly, in Hudson County, any team can beat another on any given day,” Jantas said. “But if we play well, we have a chance to go back to the finals and possibly win.”
Things certainly look much better now than they did two weeks ago.

Jim Hague can be reached at You can also read Jim’s blog at

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