Fall sports at River Dell and Bergen Catholic may not have ended with any state titles to their names, now the winter teams will have their chances to bring home new hardware to their respective schools.
While a young team, Bergen Catholic (1-1) is already showing great promise in the Gordon Conference National Division. The Crusaders have split their first two games with a huge 4-0 shutout victory over Bishop Eustace and a 4-1 loss to Morris Knolls.
Following their 7-12 campaign last year, the Crusaders will look to seniors forward Tucker James and defenseman Tyler Garcia to lead the way in an underclassman heavy roster. Junior Gennaro Anzevino will be the primary netminder with freshman Peter Negron seeing time in the cage as well.
Bergen's schedule will feature a variety of tough opponents including the likes of Kinnelon, Chatham and St. Joe’s Metuchen during the annual Pepsi Classic Tournament.
The Golden Hawks are seeing a resurgance in its own program, a co-op with Westwood, as the team is now 3-2 in the Big North Gold Division. River Dell, which had a disappointing 6-17 campaign in 2011, is seeing the fruits of its labor bloom as its youth program begins feeding more athletes into the varsity team.
The Hawks' are in one of the toughest Big North Divisions facing opponents like Ridgewood and Paramus Catholic and will challenge themselves against West Orange and Morris Hills in the Codey Holiday Classic Blue Division. They will also challenge Monsignor Donovan late in the season as well.
With two seniors leading, Bergen Catholic takes to the pool with a small group of experienced swimmers but is still expected to contend for County and Big North Division 1 titles. The team started their season off with a 115-55 victory over Teaneck and a win over Paramus.
Sophomore John Om returns to the water after caputring the 100 breast stroke title his freshman season. Om and junior Josh Sembrano contributed as half of the Crusaders record-breaking 200 medley relay squad at the County championship.
River Dell/Westwood were hit hard by graduation as the girls lost four-year starters Eilish Devine and Hayley Degnan, but to date the girls team is 1-1 while the boys fell to 0-2.
The co-op Lady Hawks swept past Demarest 100-70 but fell in a highly contested division match with Pascack Regional, 89-80. So far it has been the underclassmen Emily Reynolds (200 IM, 400 Relay), Maddy Toohey (50 Free, 100 Free, 200 Relay, 400 Relay), Gabby Denicola (100 Fly, 500 Free, 200 Relay, 400 Relay) and Leinne Barrise (200 Relay) who have been leading the way.
The boys, who were competitive in every meet in 2011 regardless of their record, are again led by Liam Oberlander (200 Free) and Albert Figueiredo (100 Free, 100 Back), and will be joined in the water by Pete Mari and Brendan O'Connell.
Scott Kim will be leading River Dell which is 1-3 to date on the lanes, but the Hawks are not expected to be a force this season as the team has struggled in past years to draw athletes.
Simon Lezaja, junior, and Freddy Dressel, senior, bring experience to the Crusaders who are already sitting in first place atop the United Division and an undefeated 4-0 record. Lezaja has rolled high series of 700 (against Paramus Catholic), 613 (vs. DePaul), 680 (vs. Paramus) and a 680 (against Don Bosco). Dressel has rolled a 577 series (PC) so far.
The Crusaders will be led by new head coach Bill Magee and returning starters Mike Whalen (distance), Teddy D’Amico (pole vault), Jack Lippin (shot) and Casey Gaarn in a young squad.
River Dell will again be led by Stefan Schuster, Paige Fernandez, Grace Behrens, Austin Berninger, Calvin Hartman, Chris Desanctis, and Bridget Brindley.
Bergen Catholic had a dream finish to their 2011-2012 season, capturing their 6th state championship in program history with a victory down in Toms River over CBA. This winter the Crusaders return with an even deeper lineup for the 2012-2013 season and have their sights set on winning another state title and competing for the top spot in all of New Jersey.
State champion Johnny Sebastian has bumped up to 182 pounds and will be joined by freshman Nick Suriano (106) who made a name for himself at the preseason Super 32 tournament. Christian Jenco (195) and Tyler Casamenti (113) should also be competitive in their respective weight classes.
The Golden Hawks return six starters in Nick Baranello (182/195), D.J. Tirelli (120), Vincent Cariddi (145), Danny Lynch (126/132), Brendan Campbell (138) and Tyler Kallansee (160/170) as one of the more formidable squads in the Big North Patrior Division.
With the loss of six seniors including 1,000-point scorer Kate Brock, guards Kayla McGovern and Emily McGovern will have their work cut out for them as the Lady Hawks are in a rebuilding season.
The short roster, all of 12 athletes, will need to stay healthy all season against the likes of Ramsey, Mahwah, Pascack Hills and Dumont.
Joining the McGovern cousins will be guards Kiki Wozniak, Jeana Cappolla, and Kim Huber. As forward, the Lady Hawks have Jenn Osterlof, Christine Woods, Nicole Vigneron, Kayleen Melvin, Emma O'Connor, Kyra Mackesy and Kayla Barnes.
With Tim Barnes still recovering from a broken leg (football), the Golden Hawks are also in rebuilding mode with forward CJ Doornheim and guards Nick Shanman and Troy Hughes leading the way.
Similar to their Lady Hawks, the boys team has a short roster of 13 athletes including Connor Belthoff, Grant Kuchar, Justin Murphy, Mike Fasano, Mike Love, Bob Wapelhorst, Dan Desierdero, Ryan Zaccaria, Tory Bendian and Brian Fuchs.
The Crusaders have plenty of depth to draw from as head coach Billy Armstrong looks to improve last season's 14-12 record. While returning starters PJ Reed, Taino Flores, Kyle Queiro and Nadi Beciri are expected to contribute huge numbers, the rest of Bergen's squad features several JV athletes to move up and have larger roles.
Keep an eye on juniors Matej Jurcevic, Brian Ward, Liam Fowler, and Brandon Johnson, freshmen Gilberto Cue and Jayson Graham, sophomore Elijah Wilson. Seniors Connor Van Cleave, George Kloak, Mike Guerra, Mike Harper and Morgan Williams will each come off BC’s deep bench to make a difference.