Students in graduation

Soccer team wraps up perfect regular season; now eyeing another state and national title

Oct. 26, 2018

St. Benedict’s cross country team won its second straight Essex County Championships title, while the soccer team closed out the regular season with its winning streak intact on Friday.

Coach Dwayne Cox’ runners outkicked Montclair, 57-118, to win the team title behind Jackson Burnett’s fifth-place individual effort at Brookdale Park in Bloomfield.

Burnett clocked a 16:04.2 to lead four Gray Bee runners to cross the finish line 12th or better to earn the title.  Alfred Chawonza (16:17.2 9) was the second runner for SBP to cross the line, finishing 9th, while Julius Pallero (16:22.7) came in 11th and Ronald Kigen (16:25.7) placed 12th. Rounding out the top 5 for The Hive was Lewis Ngwenya, who placed 20th with a clocking of 16:52.4.

“We are very proud of the team effort put forth by our guys,” said Cox. “Jackson (Burnett) really stepped up to lead our group. This is a great win for our program and we are happy to end the (team) season on such a strong note.”

(View photos from the Essex County Cross Country Championships at Brookdale Park)

The Gray Bee soccer team wrapped up the regular season by scoring five times in blanking Newark East Side at Riverfront Park for its 35th straight success, dating back to the beginning of the 2017 season.

St. Benedict’s (16-0), the season-long, top-ranked team in the nation, built a four-goal halftime cushion on strikes by Kalleb Braga, A.J. Johnson and Ronald Mafunzwaini (2). Celio Pompeu recorded two assists and Lui Chaves scored after the break.

Coach Jim Wandling’s team, which recorded its 12th shutout, including its eighth straight clean sheet, open the State Prep A Tournament 2 p.m. Tuesday against Lawrenceville at Riverfront Park. A win there, and the Gray Bees will gunning for its 29th state title in 30 years and hoping to lay claim to its 12th National title.

“Our goal now is to not get complacent and finish this off,” said Wandling. “We’ve been playing some pretty good soccer all year and right now are probably playing with a level of confidence that is hard to match. Right now, we are looking toward Tuesday and then bringing it home on Thursday.”