SHP Soccer Overcomes COVID, Wins State Title

This past year has no doubt been one of the hardest to overcome in recent memory.  COVID-19 seemingly came out of nowhere and hit the world hard.  As a society as a whole and as one SHP community, necessary adjustments were and are needed to live through these difficult times.  A prime example of a local group that overcame the pandemic to the best of their abilities was the 2020-2021 SHP Soccer team.  Despite multiple hardships the team was forced to overcome in the beginning and middle of the season, they strived for greatness and ended their season on a strong point.  In normal circumstances, I would’ve had the chance to sit down and interview Coach Berman.  However, the adjustment of emailing helped Mr. Berman deliver the story of the obstacles and adjustments the Pirates went through.

To start their journey towards the season, the Pirates were hit early with a hardship.  In the heat of the pandemic, Coach Berman and his staff had to decide how their mini and training camps would be held.  Unfortunately, mini camps in June were not allowed and the Pirate workouts consisted only of individual ball work.  Usually, multiple scrimmages are played before the real season starts; however, the Pirates were limited to only one.  This threw another divot in the road for the soccer team.  Providing a transition for the new varsity squadmates and developing chemistry as a team were essential this year; nine of last year’s starting eleven graduated.  The Pirates still managed and started off the year 2-0-1.

However, after the Pirates second win, a 6-0 rout over Life Center, SHP was forced to quarantine for two weeks.  This halted the Pirates right in their tracks.  After the quarantine was up, the Pirates sputtered with their lack of playing time in a scoreless draw to Montclair Kimberley Academy and a unfortunate 1-0 OT loss to West Orange the next night.  Yet the Pirates still managed to overcome this cold streak.  Their next two games consisted of routs of both Caldwell and Newark Academy.  But the Pirates were then forced into yet another quarantine.

This year, high school soccer did not offer their state playoff series; so the Pirates’ only chance at a title was an arranged “sectional” playoff series.  To start the playoffs, a nailbiter 1-0 OT win against MKA boosted the Pirates into the semifinals, where they would go up against a nice Bergen Catholic team.  There, SHP handled business with a 2-0 win.  Now, the Pirates had one game left; one game to make the hardships, the shortened season, the quarantines, the valuable and limited practice time worth it.  The Pirates were faced with the task of beating a tough Saint Peter’s Prep side.  For one of the first times all year, our men were blessed to have some fans for their most important game.  With the fans backing them, the Pirates put on a show, a 4-0 shutout to win it all.  The Pirates proved yet again that although a task may be difficult to overcome, nothing is too strong for the Seton Hall Prep Pirates.

A topic from Mr. Berman that was really powerful was his discussion of how the Pirates lived up to our school motto, “Hazard Zet Forward.”  According to the championship-winning coach, “Our kids demonstrated great resilience and persevered.”  The Pirates put in the time and effort during their Microsoft Teams training sessions and limited real time practice.  With their lack of time, yet their goal still reached, the Pirates showed everyone to never count us out.  No matter the task at hand, the SHP Pirates always deliver.