Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Phil Anastasia: Sorting the apples and oranges

The final fall Super Seven is no easy pick, but St. Augustine boys' soccer comes out on top.

The Lenape girls' soccer team is all cheers after defeating Livingston, 5-1, to win the state Group 4 title Nov. 20. Lenape placed No. 6 in the Super Seven.
The Lenape girls' soccer team is all cheers after defeating Livingston, 5-1, to win the state Group 4 title Nov. 20. Lenape placed No. 6 in the Super Seven.Read moreLAURENCE KESTERSON / Staff Photographer

Could Haddonfield tennis beat St. Augustine boys' soccer?

Could Cherokee football beat Eastern field hockey?

Could Lenape girls' tennis beat Holy Spirit football?

Silly questions, of course. But comparing the apples of one sport to the oranges of another to the grapefruits of a third is the trick to making the final Super Seven rankings of the best teams in South Jersey sports this fall.

It was tough enough to decide on a No. 1 team in football, as two programs went 12-0. Add in terrific teams in several other sports, and it becomes next to impossible.

But it's fun to try:

1. St. Augustine boys' soccer (25-1): The Hermits take the top spot based on their victory over Pingry in the cold rain in the Non-Public A state title game.

At the time, Pingry was ranked No. 1 in the state by the Newark Star-Ledger and had emerged from an absolutely loaded Non-Public A North field.

But St. Augustine didn't squeak out a narrow win. The Hermits scored a convincing 2-0 victory to cap a remarkable season under coach Les Heggan.

Led by senior midfielder Connor Hurff, who was The Inquirer's player of the year, St. Augustine captured the first Coaches Association tournament title in the history of the program.

Hurff scored a hat trick in a 3-0 victory over Rancocas Valley in the Coaches Tournament final. He also scored the first goal and set up the second in the state final.

Senior goalie John Richards had 20 shutouts behind a defense that was led by senior star Sam Vessels.

2. Holy Spirit football (12-0): The Spartans rate the slight edge over Cherokee in this ranking based on the strength of their schedule, especially the quality of the competition in the final game of the season.

Led by all-purpose star Joe Sarnese, who has committed to Villanova, Holy Spirit scored a dramatic, 14-13 victory over North Jersey power St. Joseph's of Montvale in the Non-Public 3 state title game at Rutgers.

That completed a sensational season for coach Chalie Roman's team. The Spartans, with junior Donta Pollock rushing for more than 1,800 yards and 29 touchdowns, ran the table against a formidable schedule that included Non-Public 1-2 champion St. Joseph of Hammonton, which finished 10-1.

Holy Spirit handed St. Joseph's its only loss, 35-0, and also beat South Jersey Group 4 finalist Oakcrest by 49-0.

3. Cherokee football (12-0): The Chiefs showed their grit in battling through a season-long series of injuries to register the first 12-win season in the rich history of the program, as well as the first undefeated season since 1985.

Led by two-way back Mike Zeuli, quarterback Andy Martin, nose tackle Nick Foster, linebacker Kevin Byrne, and several other top seniors, Cherokee became the first team from the traditional South Jersey area to win back-to-back Group 4 sectional crowns. (Jackson won consecutive crowns in 2000-01, and Brick Township won three in a row from 1981 to '83.)

Coach P.J. Mehigan's team saved its best football for last, scoring a convincing, 33-6 victory over Oakcrest in the sectional title game.

4. Haddonfield girls' tennis (31-1): Led by sophomore No. 1 singles Taylor Ng as well as senior singles stars Martha Theodoris and Spencer Ng, Haddonfield won its third consecutive state Group 2 title before falling to Red Bank Catholic by a 3-2 score in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions.

Coach Jeff Holman's team went 63-1 in a two-year run at the top of state tennis. Over those two seasons, the Bulldogs won 5-0 against every South Jersey opponent except for a 4-1 win over Cherry Hill East and a 4.5-0.5 win over Moorestown.

5. Eastern field hockey (26-1): The Vikings won their 12th consecutive Group 4 state title and advanced to the finals of the Tournament of Champions before falling to Oak Knoll by a 4-2 score.

Led by Iowa-bound seniors Cori Allen and Brittany Evangelisti, the Vikings extended their national record for consecutive state titles. Since 1999, coach Danyle Heilig's team is 260-3-5 against New Jersey opponents, including a 63-2 mark in postseason play.

6. Lenape girls' soccer (23-1-2): Other than Eastern field hockey, no team in any sport has been as successful over the last four years as the Indians.

This season, Lenape won its fourth consecutive Group 4 state title as well as its fourth consecutive Coaches Tournament title. That means that coach Kevin Meder's team is 38-0 in high-pressure, elimination games over the last four years.

This year's team was led by junior midfielder Courtney Kovac, freshman striker Kate Walters, junior goalie Allison Johnson, senior defender Nicole Curry, and junior sweeper Morgan McDivitt, among many others.

7. Williamstown girls' volleyball (30-3): The Braves won the second state title in the 14-year history of the program, upsetting Hunterdon Central by 2-0 in the South 4 final, then beating Livingston by 2-0 in the championship game.

Coach Chris Sheppard's team was led by senior setter Brooke Hassan and also featured Meg Kinee, Kelsey DiVirgilio, Mimi Cook, Gabby Farquaharson, Amanda Myers, and Idi Uffen, among others.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Bishop Eustace field hockey, Cherokee girls' cross-country, Cherokee boys' soccer, Haddonfield boys' cross-country, Moorestown girls' tennis, Paul VI girls' soccer, St. Joseph's football, Shawnee boys' soccer, Timber Creek girls' soccer.