TASTY TIDBITS Prep boys, North Bergen girls fall short in Hudson finals

Horrific story about former Bruin grappler Vasquez; state playoff update; NJIC holds tourneys

VALIANT EFFORT – North Bergen junior midfielder Kat Medford is set to unleash a free kick during the Bruins’ loss to Kearny in the Hudson County Tournament girls’ soccer finale last Saturday in Harrison.
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VALIANT EFFORT – North Bergen junior midfielder Kat Medford is set to unleash a free kick during the Bruins’ loss to Kearny in the Hudson County Tournament girls’ soccer finale last Saturday in Harrison.

It’s very hard to win soccer championships when you go up against a school that resides in a place known as “Soccertown, USA.”
So it was a little tough for the North Bergen girls’ soccer team to tangle with Kearny in the Hudson County Tournament finale last Saturday in Harrison, considering that Kearny had captured the title in each of the prior eight years of the tourney.
But the Bruins gave it their all and came up a little short, losing to the top-seeded defending champions, 4-0.
Still, getting to the county championship is a major achievement for the young Bruins, whose better days are definitely ahead of them.
“I’m very happy where we are,” said North Bergen head coach Jimmy Somick. “We played a very good game. I’m not disappointed at all. I’m looking forward to the next couple of years coaching this team. I hope to have the same dedication from this team. I’m looking forward to where we’re going.”
St. Peter’s Prep suffered a heartbreaking loss in the boys’ title game, falling to Kearny, 3-2, on a goal with just 35 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Marauders received an early goal from do-everything midfielder Christian Arcos and held the lead through halftime.
Kearny then scored two goals, before the Marauders tied the game at 2-2 with just five minutes left in regulation on a header from Jacob Brozon, but the undefeated Kardinals scored the game winner in the closing seconds.
“After we got the equalizer, I was hopeful that we would be able to get another,” said St. Peter’s Prep head coach Josh Jantas. “I was hoping that we could sneak another one in, but it didn’t happen. This has grown into a pretty good rivalry between us. The games are intense and fun. It’s the kind of game that you want to coach and want to play in. Our guys played with a lot of grit. I thought it was an admirable performance.”
The Kardinals and Marauders met three times this season, with Kearny winning twice, both by a single goal, and the third game was a 1-1 draw. So the rivalry was indeed strong, but the Marauders couldn’t defend the title that they won a year ago.
All in all, it was a great day of soccer with perfect pristine weather conditions. It’s just unfortunate that the locals came away empty…
Back in 2003, I was fortunate to write an Athlete of the Week story about a North Bergen wrestler named Alex Vasquez, who overcame a serious back injury that forced him out of action as a junior to return as a senior with glory. Vasquez won the 152-pound District 16 championship that year, helping the Bruins win the team title.
After high school and college, Vasquez became a North Bergen police officer and worked his way up the ranks rather quickly, becoming a well liked and highly respected sergeant on the force. He was a father of four. He appeared to have the world on a string.
But for some reason last Saturday, Vasquez decided to take his own life. He was only 32 years old. No one ever knows why someone makes such a traumatic and awful decision like he did to end his life. But we’re all terribly saddened when it happens, especially to a young husband and father with so much more life to live.
Veteran North Bergen head wrestling coach and athletic director Jerry Maietta fondly remembered his standout wrestler.
“He was a tough, hard-nosed kid,” Maietta said. “He was extremely coachable. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for a freshman to wrestle varsity, but when Alex was a freshman, it was rare. And he wrestled varsity all four years and started for three years. He was a district champ and a sectional runner-up. It’s just devastating and shocking. There are a whole bunch of different emotions that run through you. He’s leaving behind four young kids. It’s terribly sad for everyone in North Bergen.”
And throughout Hudson County as well. Alex was a wonderful young man who never forgot the article I wrote about him 14 years ago. The link to the article can be found at the end of this piece. You can go online to our website and read the piece. It definitely shows the kind of kid that Alex Vasquez was. It’s a tragedy that has impacted so many people…
Kudos go out to the powers that be in the North Jersey Interscholastic League for instituting a playoff system for its teams.
The NJIC has a tournament for football, soccer and volleyball in the fall. It will try to include boys’ and girls’ basketball and wrestling in the winter and baseball and softball in the spring.
It was an idea that started with boys’ basketball and has just blossomed into the other sports.
“It’s been a great opportunity for other schools to meet each other,” said NJIC Executive Director Stan Fryczynski, the former long-time athletic director at Secaucus. “We’re getting teams of equal caliber playing each other. The coaches’ feedback has been really very encouraging. It’s given our league a sense of excitement. Other leagues around the state are looking at us as being pioneers. It has been off-the-charts successful. It adds a little more exposure for our athletes and gives our athletes a chance to feel the playoff tournament atmosphere.”
The Secaucus boys’ soccer team was set to face Midland Park Saturday for the NJIC Tournament championship. Secaucus would never regularly get a chance to play for a soccer tourney title, but they can now. It’s a brilliant idea…
It appears as if seven local football teams are headed to the NJSIAA state playoffs, namely Union City and North Bergen in North Jersey Section 1, Group V; Bayonne and Dickinson in North 2, Group V; Hoboken in North 2, Group 1; Hudson Catholic in Non-Public Group 2 and St. Peter’s Prep in Non-Public Group 4.
Hoboken and Dickinson need wins this weekend to secure their spots. Hoboken is 3-4 and in seventh place in the North 2, Group 1 power point standings and Dickinson is 3-4 and in sixth in the North 2, Group V rankings. The other five teams listed are comfortably in…
Hudson Reporter High School Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-2). 2. North Bergen (6-1). 3. Union City (4-3). 4. Bayonne (4-3). 5. Hudson Catholic (4-3)…
Hudson Reporter High School Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (14-4-1). 2. Union City (8-6). 3. North Bergen (9-7). 4. Bayonne (13-6). 5. Hudson Catholic (11-5)… — Jim Hague.

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.To read his Vasquez story, go to http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/2388354/article-ATHLETE-OF-THE-WEEK-Vasquez-not-looking-back-on-bad-back?