Story and photos by Jay Cook |
RED BANK – Don’t ever underestimate the impact sports has on connecting communities.
It’s not always common for teachers and administration to flock to the sidelines of an evening sporting event, but when it’s the Red Bank Middle School Rockets soccer team, it’s almost much-watch action.
Powered by 25 youngsters from around Red Bank, the Rockets boys soccer team made their families and teachers proud on Nov. 2 when the they won a 1-0 thriller over Henry Hudson at Count Basie Field. The remarkably close game marked the Rockets’ second consecutive Shore Athletic League Championship title, and the run was thrusted by back-to-back undefeated seasons as they went 27-0-1 over that time span.
“In the past few years we’ve been putting some trophies in the showcase for Red Bank Middle School,” said boys soccer head coach John Adranovitz. “It’s about showing the positive side of our students, our athletes, our kids.”
Coming into the game 13-0 on the season, Adranovitz’s squad was ready to play on Thursday evening against a competitive Henry Hudson team. Both middle school clubs played tough defensively, but it was a first half goal by sixth grader Carlos Guerra who pushed the Rockets to a win. A through ball made its way past the defense and Guerra was situated perfectly to boot the goal in from only a few yards out.
“It was incredible kicking my school to the win,” Guerra said after the game.
The Rockets played stout defense through the second half, and as the final whistle blew, a crowd of about 100 fans roared as the middle school team mobbed each other on the pitch. Assistant head coach Isaac Nathanson was greeted with hive fives, hugs, and even a water bottle or two poured over his head. Both Guerra and goalie Jonathon Hernandez were lifted up by their friends during the post-game celebration.
“It was amazing,” said seventh grade captain Roberto Santamaria. “All this hard work with our friends all together brought us here to this championship.”
Eighth grade captain Johan Vasquez also felt the same way – elated to capture a title win with his friends.
“It was a very fun experience,” Vasquez said. “Most of the guys I’m pretty close with, which made it that much more fun.”
While the title did mark a milestone in the public school’s athletics, the win was bigger than that. It transcended the soccer pitch, the coaching staff said.
“It’s a building block. The continued success really highlights our community in a positive way,” Nathanson said. “We showed sportsmanship all the time and always preach student-athletes first.”
Adranovitz, the head coach, said his team didn’t want the season to end. They’re on a big winning streak, but will have to wait until next season to extend it. And by his measure, that’s quite alright.
“It all came together to make an undefeated team for Red Bank,” he said, “and that also made Red Bank proud.”
This article was first published in the Nov. 9-16, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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