Heading to the Top: Some Dream about Goals, Cresskill Makes Them
November 6, 2019
A Boonton defender deflected the ball out-of-bounds and Cresskill was awarded a corner kick. Cresskill junior, Josh Kim, played a cross into a jam-packed penalty box, where right-winger, Dan Binderman, made a run to the front post. Binderman connected with the ball on a header as it sailed past the Boonton goalkeeper’s outstretched hands to secure Cresskill’s 1-0 victory and an NJSIAA North 1 Group 1 Championship berth.
“It was a very hard-fought game from both sides and each team gave it their all,” says Cresskill senior co-captain Jinheung Yoo.
“The game today was tough, both because of the poor field conditions and Boonton just being a good team,” Cresskill junior co-captain Brandon Tilp adds. “But in the end, the field ended up helping us because Boonton wasn’t prepared for the ball’s uneven bounces.”
In the beginning of the season, sitting near the bottom of the NJIC Patriot Division with a 1-3 record, the Cresskill Varsity Boys’ Soccer Team was a team seldom heard in the winners’ conversation. Fast forward two months later, as the NJIC Patriot Division Co-Champions – the first Cresskill team in 32 years – with an 18-4 record, the Cougars have proven to be a formidable force and have displayed no signs of slowing down.
“This season we all went into preseason with one goal: win everything from the league to the state tournament,” says Cresskill senior co-captain Gianpaolo Colannino. “We’ve just been working hard every single day to achieve those goals.”
Senior co-captain Conor Tobin attributes Cresskill’s success to strong team chemistry and a careful focus that has carried them throughout this season.
“We’ve really come together a lot,” Tobin says. “We’ve all been close-knit and we’re a family out there. We know what we have to do and it really helps us on the field.”
The Cresskill squad started off this season with a new coach, Tim Serbe, Cresskill’s third new head coach in three years. The first handful of games this season was a transition phase for Cresskill, but Serbe didn’t miss a beat in bringing out the best in his athletes.
“Coach [Serbe] has transformed this team greatly,” Tilp says. “He took players like Jacob Lee [a freshman and right-back starter at Cresskill] who were strikers on their old team and saw their defensive potential and created the powerhouse defense we have today.”
“Powerhouse” is the best way to describe this defense. Spearheaded by goalkeeper Gianpaolo Colannino (180 saves this season), it boasts 11 clean sheets and an average of 0.5 goals allowed for the past 18 games. However, to supplement Cresskill’s defense, the depth of Cresskill’s offense, led by Robert Boiardi (18 g., 9 a.), Conor Tobin (15 g., 7 a.), Josh Kim (6 a.), Jason On (7 g., 2 a.), Jin Heung Yoo (9 g., 3 a.), Dan Binderman (10 g., 3 a.), Jack Zeigher (2 g., 5 a.), and Sean Savill (5 g.) is unmatched by any other Group 1 team.
NJ.com predicted that Cresskill would lose to Boonton during the tournament. However, this was no more than meaningless speculation for the Cresskill varsity squad.
“Cresskill has always been the underdog,” Yoo comments. “But we knew we were going to win this game from the start.”
As the Cougars head into the NJSIAA North 1 Group 1 Championship, they are set to meet co-division Patriot Division champion and rival, Waldwick. Cresskill played Waldwick twice this season, losing at home (2-1 loss) but winning at Waldwick’s field (3-1 win). However, the Cresskill boys are on a mission.
“We think that Cresskill soccer has been waiting for this moment for a really long time and it finally came and we couldn’t be happier,” Colannino says. “We are ready for anything and we’ve been on a great [17-1] streak and we think this has been long coming.”
You can see the Cougars in their next matchup against Waldwick at home on Friday, November 8th.