By: James Rizzo
The Caldwell Boys Soccer team has become accustomed to changes. Last year, it was their shortened schedule and COVID-19 protocols, and this year, it is their new head coach, Martin Rodriguez. In the second hardest ranked conference in New Jersey, Coach Rodriguez has picked up four wins in his first ten games as head coach. When speaking to him about the first half of the season, he said, “It’s been stressful and had its ups and downs. It’s tough to stay even-keeled, because you don’t want to get too high when things are good and too low when things are south. You want to stay positive but limit the negative things that limit the team. If that’s the case, then things are going as planned.”
After losing their first three games of the season without a goal, the Chiefs began to play with a new sense of urgency, as they began to find their rhythm. Led by senior captains Tobias Catizone and Jimmy Rizzo, the two have combined for 20 goals in their last seven games. When speaking about the improved offense, senior captain Tobias Catizone said, “We started off the season rough, but once we found our rhythm and changed our formation, we started to find the back of the net. The team’s beginning to improve our chemistry and things are starting to fall into place.”
Senior Matt Casale has been vital to the Chiefs’ midfield. He is known as one of the hardest workers on the team and took home the Colonel John McHugh Award, an honor given to the most tenacious and persistent player on the team on Soccer Saturday. Senior Aren Koraian and junior Jordan Catrambone have also been key, adding a few goals and assists to the team’s tally.
Coming off a 9-0 shutout win against Barringer in the preliminary round of the Essex County Tournament, the Chiefs look to continue their run against state ranked Montclair. When asked about his strategy in pulling off the upset, Coach Rodriguez remarked, “We have to keep the squad positive, have a plan, and execute it to the best of our ability. Not every plan goes how it’s supposed to, and we’ll have to adjust, outpace them, and make them question their plan. It’s not going to be easy, but if we finish, our chances and are in tip-top shape. I think we can pull off the upset.”
As for the state tournament, the team looks to make a run and break their semifinal curse, falling in three sectional semifinals in the last three years. The Chiefs have the potential and work ethic to make a run and pull off some unexpected wins as they seek to finish out their season strong.