The temperatures might have been close to 110 degrees on the scorching FieldTurf surface at Harrison High School last weekend, but that didn’t stop three local soccer teams from getting a head start on the upcoming season by participating in the Harrison Soccer Tournament.
Although the real-time thermometer read 97 degrees on Saturday, Memorial, St. Peter’s Prep, and Union City all participated in the three-day soccer fest, along with host Harrison and teams from the Jersey Shore and Bergen County.
“It gives us an idea where we stand,” said veteran Memorial head coach Alberto de los Reyes. “It also gives us an opportunity to pick up where we left off last year. We’re returning a bunch of upperclassmen, so we’ll be able to see where we’re at. We’re playing together for the first time. We can then look to adjust and determine where we need help and who will be in the starting lineup.”
Senior Alex Garcia leads the Tigers. He had 13 goals and 20 assists last season.
“He’s a key leader for us,” de los Reyes said. “He’s done a lot for us over the last three years. I think he outperformed himself last year. He’s now a different level player and that’s critical for us. He has to take on more of a leadership role.”
Garcia seems ready for that challenge.
“I think it was very important for us to come here and get used to each other again,” Garcia said. “We have a lot of freshmen who will be playing with us and they have to learn our system. We have a lot of work to do, but we should be pretty good this year. This [the Harrison tournament] was a good chance to play.”
The Hudson County teams were not paired against each other in the tournament, because they will face each other in the regular season or the county tournament.
Senior stopper Juan Laverde should be another key contributor to the Tigers this season. Seniors Damian Cordova and John Chavez are excellent defenders. Sophomore Jose Santamaria will also be in the backline.
“We have high expectations of our seniors,” de los Reyes said. “They have played a lot and that experience means a lot.”
Juniors Ryan Aguirre and Jose Maria Gonzalez are excellent strikers and should find the net often.
“We had to make adjustments to our front line,” de los Reyes said.
Freshmen Kevin Salinas and Irin Gonzalez will add to the team’s midfield depth, along with senior Angel Guevara.
Senior Kevin Cruz is one of the best goalkeepers in the county, but he has been battling a bit of a hip injury.
“We still have a lot of things we have to work on,” Cruz said. “We’re getting a chance here to see where we make mistakes and what we need to work on in practice. We have some talent. We just need to work as a team.”
And stay as cool as possible as the workouts continue…
Legendary Hall of Fame St. Anthony basketball coach Bob Hurley will join former New York Giants Pro Bowl offensive lineman Chris Snee and Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale in a special panel discussion entitled “Building a Championship Culture,” at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University Thursday night at 7 p.m.
It will be the first of a town hall series of topical sports issues at the Museum and Learning Center.
Each of the panelists will share their experiences about winning environments and answer questions from the audience. Tickets for the program are $15 for adults and $10 for students. For more information, contact the Museum at (973) 655-2378…
And speaking of Hurley, St. Anthony High School will host a special 50th anniversary coaching gala in honor of Hurley on Friday, Sept. 23, at the Casino in the Park in Jersey City.
There is a host of different ways to contribute to the cause, which include sponsorships and the advertising journal. Tickets for the dinner begin at $150 and contributions are tax deductable, because they go directly to the high school.
For further information, contact the St. Anthony Development Office at (201) 653-5739 or visit online at www.stanthonyhighschool.org…
Here are a few items of note about Fairleigh Dickinson University and its men’s basketball program, coached by North Bergen native Greg Herenda.
First, former St. Peter’s Prep standout Tyrone O’Garro has been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court for his performance in the classroom.
O’Garro, a graduate student at FDU, posted a grade point average of better than 3.2 for last season. O’Garro helped the Knights gain the Northeast Conference’s Team Academic Award, given to the team that had the highest GPA in each sport.
Next, the Boys and Girls Club of Hackensack and Lodi honored Herenda at its recent golf outing and what does Herenda do at the outing? He only drains a hole-in-one on a featured hole.
The Knights are currently in Canada for a three-game exhibition tour this weekend…
Now, continuing with the list of the top 25 sports characters of the last 25 years, here’s No. 13, none other than Joe Palermo of Hoboken.
Anyone who has been around the sport of basketball in New Jersey over the last 70 or so years knows Palermo, one of the most recognizable and beloved figures in the sport. After all, Palermo was once the head coach at the now-defunct St. Cecelia’s in Kearny, where Palermo’s top scorer was a sharpshooting forward named Bill Raftery, long before the famed basketball broadcaster ever had onions or was sending it home.
Palermo was also the highly successful coach at Kean, then had stints as the freshman and assistant coach at St. Peter’s College. In fact, Palermo is the only person to have coached both the men’s team and the women’s team at SPC.
Palermo, known for never wearing socks and chomping on an always present cigar, has been spotted in recent years doing power walks around JFK Stadium and the streets of Hoboken, still donning the wrinkled and faded windbreaker from his days at Kean. He’s truly one of a kind and certainly a character, so this week, we honor the immortal Joe Palermo as our No. 13 in the top 25. Now, we’re more than half way home in the list…–Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com