January 25, 2021
The 2020 Cherry Hill East Boys Soccer team will hold a place in East athletics history. A playoff run that included a win in penalty kicks over Rancocas Valley, a dominant win over Vineland, and an overtime victory over Washington Township paved the way for their appearance in the Southwest Group 4 championship game. This would be the first time East reached the championship game since 2001, and although they would suffer a defeat to Shawnee, this team accomplished what few thought they could. A decent regular season record of 6-4-3 designated East as the No. 6 team in the bracket entering the playoffs, but they would play way above their seeding. With a mix of sophomore and senior talent, the Cougars were able to knock in over 30 goals on the year, giving up only a little over 20. They finished as the 9th best team in South Jersey according to the Courier Post. This season will go down as one of East boys soccer’s best ever, and any doubt people had about them early on is long gone.
This team came together early on and played with a tenacity every single practice and game. By sacrificing many aspects of their social life and time during the offseason and especially during the season, their dedication is a big part of their success. With depth at almost every position and a substitute rotation that allowed for lots of moving pieces, they were able to withstand the obstacles of injuries and COVID to reach a championship. With large doses of raw talent, this team was a force to be reckoned with and will continue to be one moving forward.
While the team boasted a wealth of upperclassmen talent, there was a lack of full experience at several positions. With sophomores in key roles, it took the development of the season for this team to truly come together and reach their full potential. Early on there was a tunnel-vision type of playstyle seen in the first few games, where the flow of possession was too focused on attacking and less on outplaying the opponent overall, but this would not last long as they corrected these issues and started to play well down the stretch.
Coaches Thoughts: Mr. Melograna
What adversity needed to be overcome?
- Quick changes
- Lose Trey Shaw
- Getting down, not quitting
- Overcame self doubt
- Got together quick
How historic was that playoff run?
- No conference, division or sectionals
- Culmination of hard work (Nobody can take that away)
- 3 wins 2017, 8 1-goal losses
- Work ethic, pride, motivation
What does this senior class mean to you (legacy)?
- Leadership (captains down, roles and young guys)
- Building successful culture
- People put into positions to succeed
- 18 seniors, Robbie
Any thoughts for the future of the program? (2021 Outlook)
- Lots of guys coming back
- Open positions
- 5/6/7 kids w/ varsity experience
- Other teams in division will be great “Our division will be absolutely loaded next year”
- Learning moments from this year
- Getting the most out of guys (Focus on 4 sophmores, 2 juniors and positioning)
- Stats: 10 goals, 3 assists on the year. Game winner v WT. Second team All South Jersey, All-State.
- Quote: “Everyone knew their roles and bought in. When we went down there were a couple of us who really did our best to motivate the team to get back into the game.”
- Stats: 5 goals, 3 assists on year.
- Quote: “I knew that if I could improve myself and help my teammates improve then we would be successful. At the end of the day every role on the team is just important as the other.”
- Stats: 70 saves on the year. Game winning penalty kick saves v RV.
- Quote: “I thought about how much we’ve worked over these last four years to get to this point.”
- Stats: 3 assists. Defensive Anchor.
- Quote: “We had countless different players step up and become leaders and I was able to be one of them. We had a lot of talent going forward and allowed our team to be creative knowing we would be in the back to close down anything that came our way.”