Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Sinan Tuzcu powers Glassboro into Group 1 state final

The senior striker has scored 30 goals as the Bulldogs have advanced to the state championship game for the first time since 1969.

Glassboro senior striker Sinan Tuzcu has scored 30 goals in leading the team to the Group 1 state championship game.
Glassboro senior striker Sinan Tuzcu has scored 30 goals in leading the team to the Group 1 state championship game.Read moreElizabeth Robertson/Staff photographer

Sinan Tuzcu would send out the group text around 9 o'clock on summer mornings.

"Everyone come out."

His teammates knew where: New Street park.

They knew when: Now.

They knew why: Soccer.

"We just go out and play and have fun because soccer is all about having fun," Tuzcu said. "We get better from that."

Tuzcu wasn't the only Glassboro High School player to organize the informal workouts that helped set the stage for the program's first appearance in the state championship game in 48 years.

Sometimes, fellow rising seniors Frankie Fazzolari or Sefa Gocmez would beat him to the punch.

But it's unlikely anybody enjoyed those gatherings more than Tuzcu, who plays with the zest of his "role model" — French striker Bafétimbi Gomis, who plays for storied Turkish club Galatasaray — and loves to display his rare finishing skills.

Tuzcu has scored 30 goals and powered Glassboro into Sunday's Group 1 state final against Pompton Lakes at Kean University in Union County.

"He has something you can't teach," Glassboro coach Mark Bridges said of Tuzcu's ability to score.

Glassboro (20-2-2) has made the state finals for the first time since the 1969 team lost to Chatham Boro.

"To do this as a senior, with a chance to win a state title, I couldn't be any happier," Tuzcu said before a recent practice on the school's football field.

Tuzcu attributes the team's success to "chemistry" built through years of playing together in the summer, on school teams and on the Glassboro Orioles, a parks-and-recreation team that featured many of the current athletes during their middle-school days.

"We won championships there and we knew we had the talent to go far in high school," Tuzcu said.

Tuzcu is one of five players of Turkish descent who start for the Bulldogs. The others are seniors Gocmez and Batuhan Kir, junior Emir Gocmez, and sophomore Gorkem Ozdemir.

"We have a big connection," Tuzcu said. "We're all brothers on this team. Having Turkish people on this team, it's warming, but everyone on this team is equal. We have that brotherhood."

Tuzcu was born in Philadelphia and has lived in Glassboro since he was two years old. His parents and older siblings all were born in Turkey.

Tuzcu is a big fan of Istanbul's Galatasaray — and Gomis.

"So many Turkish players are role models for me," Tuzcu said. "But [Gomis] is my favorite. I celebrate sometimes because of him. He does, like, crawling on the ground when he scores. It's so nice."

Tuzcu said he "100 percent" plans to play at the next level but has not made a college decision.

He scored 26 goals as a junior as Glassboro made the South Jersey Group 1 finals, losing to eventual state co-champion Haddon Township. He has picked up the pace as a senior, with hat tricks against Deptford, Delsea, Pitman, and Clayton, and four two-goal games as well.

"He was banged-up a little early last season," Bridges said. "But around the 12th, 13th game, he started to show his true colors. He scored a hat trick in our first three games in the playoffs last year. This year he's picked right up where he left off."

Tuzcu broke a scoreless tie with a goal in Glassboro's 2-0 win over Central Jersey champion Highland Park in the state semifinals on Tuesday night. He also scored the team's only goal in a penalty-kicks victory over Palmyra in the South Jersey Group 1 sectional game.

"We've had good finishers before," said Bridges, who is in his 17th season. "We've had decent teams before. But this is really the first time we've had this good of a team with this good of a finisher."

Glassboro on Sunday will try to win the school's first state title in boys' soccer. The game under the lights on Kean University's artificial-turf field will mark the end of a journey that began when many of the athletes were barely in their teens and used to gather at New Street park off Glassboro-Cross Keys Road.

They still were there many mornings last summer.

"New Street park — that's where it all began," Tuzcu said. "We played there our whole lives. That's where this all started."

Sunday’s state finals

Boys’ soccer

At Kean University

Group 3
Mainland vs. Mendham, 12:30 p.m.

Group 1
Glassboro vs. Pompton Lakes, 5:30 p.m.