Prep soccer survives injuries to key players ; Secaucus’ Kashian goes 1,000 digs; Hudson’s Kemp picks Iona; top fives

The St. Peter’s Prep soccer team, shown here in action against Kearny, is battling through several injuries while still earning the top seed in the upcoming Hudson County Tournament.
The St. Peter’s Prep soccer team, shown here in action against Kearny, is battling through several injuries while still earning the top seed in the upcoming Hudson County Tournament.

The high school soccer season was bringing such hope and expectations for the Marauders of St. Peter’s Prep. While the other top contenders were decimated by graduation, the Marauders brought back a ton of talented players from last year’s squad.

“We were hopeful to win the league [the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League] and maybe the [Hudson] county tournament,” said veteran St. Peter’s Prep head coach Josh Jantas. “I think we would be favored to do so. We play a lot of tough opponents early in the season. I thought we had a chance. But we have never had a season like this one, dealing with injuries.”

All totaled, the Marauders lost nine different players to an assortment of injuries, including six starters.

Now, no one in local soccer circles is going to break down and cry because mighty St. Peter’s is going through a tough spread in their schedule. No one at all is going to feel sorry for the Marauders. And Jantas knows that.

“It seems like when we’re getting one back, another one goes down,” Jantas said. “We’ve had guys go out with concussions, broken bones. We’ve just been unlucky this year. We do all we can to prevent injuries with training and all. But these injuries all seem to be happening at the same time in the same season. We lost kids that we were counting on to be key parts to the team, so other kids had to step up and do a good job.”

When senior defender Kevin Diaz broke his wrist in a recent loss to HCIAL rival Kearny, Jantas knew that the potential All-State back was done for the year.

“He’s a three-year starter and one of the top defenders in the state,” Jantas said.

Senior Matias Carrion, another four-year varsity performer and three-year starter, pulled his hamstring severely and that sent the talented midfielder to the sidelines to heal.

“Matias and Kevin were two of the top five players in the league,” Jantas said. “Matias’ hamstring is pretty bad and I don’t know if he’ll be back.”

The injuries didn’t stop there. Senior Oleg Pruts, another four-year varsity player, broke his toe and was forced out of action. Senior Johannes Dirx missed seven games, but has since returned.

Junior midfielder Jair Arriaga was out four games with injury.

“All these injuries add up,” Jantas said. “We had to concentrate on getting the team healthy and back for the upcoming big games. Each year, I feel a little unfortunate, especially for the seniors when they get hurt. But I’ve never seen anything like this. We always lost a player or two, but this year, it’s been overwhelming.”

The Marauders earned the top seed in the Hudson County Tournament, which begins play this weekend. But the Marauders are now 9-5-1 overall and losers of three straight to North Bergen, Harrison (at Red Bull Arena) and finally state power St. Benedict’s Prep. Suddenly, the Marauders’ thoughts of championships have disappeared.

The Marauders are currently using two goalkeepers in senior Alex Novak and senior Andrew Cherry.

“Alex came into the preseason as the starter, but then we moved to Andrew and four games ago, we went back to Alex. We’ve had a long line of goalies in the past. It’s the matter of one stepping up. We’re hopeful that will happen.”

The Marauders utilize the “four-across” formation on defense.

The outside backs are currently seniors Jacob Bacha and Gio Sotomayor.

The center backs are senior captain Matt Jasinski, who transferred to St. Peter’s from Elmwood Park last year, and senior Peter Munkittrick, who has one of the best names in town.

Arriaga is back in the midfield, playing more of a defensive midfield. Dirx is the defensive whiz on the midfield, but at times, pushes forward when the Marauders need offense. Senior Gabe Guedez is the attacking midfielder who has the ability to score goals.

The Marauders have some firepower in their forward line. Senior Antonio Callegari is the standout among the forwards and the top offensive threat. Callegari has 15 goals this season after scoring 20 last year.

Junior Anthony Warmuz is another good scoring threat. He has nine goals and five assists this year.

Junior Soren Mayendia is generally an outside back, but has been moved up to the forward line.

The Marauders go to senior Justin Chipatecua as a defender or a midfielder.

The Marauders enter the county tournament as the No. 1 seed. They still have regular season games with Memorial and Kearny on tap for the next couple of weeks. It remains to be seen how the team’s fortunes will change when they are fully healthy…

Condolences to the family of Clayton Morrell, Sr. who passed away last week. Morrell, a member of the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame, was a legendary youth basketball coach in his native Union City for ages, coaching on the Biddy level and International Youth Basketball levels.

Morrell gave a start to several other coaches over the years, including former St. Joseph’s coach Manny Cardenas, who served as Morrell’s assistant coach for years before moving out on his own. Morrell was a basketball genius who was always one step ahead of his opponents. He had no peers when it came to coaching youth basketball. Morrell was so highly respected that high school coaches used to go to him for advice. He will be sorely missed…

Congratulations to Secaucus High School senior Natalie Kashian, who recently collected the 1,000th dig of her volleyball career. It’s a milestone that should not be taken lightly. That’s the epitome of selflessness. Ulrich will be profiled further in next week’s editions…

Finally, congrats also to Hudson Catholic senior slugger Jimmy Kemp, who declared his intentions to accept a baseball scholarship to Iona College last week. Kemp shared Hudson Reporter Player of the Year with teammate Tino Salgado, now at the University of Rhode Island. We all knew that Kemp was a NCAA Division I talent, so we’re glad that Iona also recognized Kemp’s immense ability to hit a baseball. We’ll have more of Kemp’s story when he signs his national letter of intent in a few weeks…

Hudson Reporter High School Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-0). 2. Union City (3-2). 3. Bayonne (4-1). 4. North Bergen (3-1). 5. Lincoln (2-3)…

Hudson Reporter High School Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (9-5-1). 2. Union City (8-4). 3. Ferris (10-1). 4. North Bergen (5-7-3). 5. Hudson Catholic (8-2). – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com