SBP Regains Their National Throne: Improves Win Streak to 78 Games Unbeaten.


(Coach Kieran Patrick)

The squad warming up before kick-off

John Jumbo, Sports Editor

The energy from the crowd was electrifying as they anxiously awaited the biggest high school game of the year. The battle between St. Benedict’s Prep Gray Bees (SBP), from Newark New Jersey, and St. Ignatius, from Cleveland Ohio, both fighting for the number one spot in the nation.

Before the big game, SBP prepared physically and mentally. The team went in with a locked-in mindset with one task at hand, to win. After speaking with a couple of the players,it was clear they felt disrespected not being number one. There was a hunger in the Gray Bees to take back what was rightfully theirs. The team was not going into this game alone, as they had the entire community behind them.

One player to look out for was Ransford Gyan (UD2) because of the danger he brings anytime he gets on the ball. St. Ignatius’s coach knew this and made the tactical decision to man-mark Ransford for the entire game. Each team containing a ‘Gatorade Player of the Year and many Division 1 commits proved the talent stepping onto the pitch. This was a game between two goliaths nobody wanted to miss.

From the first whistle, both teams played with fiery intensity. Each seemed to be on par until Martin Pulgarin (SY) whipped in a cross to Yuvraj Nagra (SY), who was able to find the back of the net with a stellar header in the sixteenth minute to put SBP up 1-0. The game did not slow down from there. Kwaku Agyabeng (UD1) was a crucial component of the SBP attack. He continued to find ways to break through the opposition’s defensive lines with his rapid pace and ball control. His efforts were proving effective. In the thirty-sixth minute, Kwaku dribbled between three defenders with elegance to set himself up at the top of the box. With one glance at the goal, he attempted to curl the ball into the bottom left corner, but his shot was just wide of the far post. St. Ignatius responded immediately, trying to sneak in a goal in the closing minutes of the first half. With a long throw-in into the box, the ball found the foot of Zsombor Onodi (SY), from St. Ignatius, at point-blank range. Onodi could not get past the lightning-fast reflexes of Marcilio Soares (SY), who made this incredible save to keep the Gray Bees in the lead.

As soon as the whistle blew for the second half, you could instantly hear the fans’ roars, eager to watch and support. Early into the next 40 minutes, St. Ignatius found themselves with a very similar opportunity. After another long throw-in into the box, they got a shot on goal but Marcilio was able to cease the danger once again. It was a back-and-forth game for much of the second half, with SBP keeping majority possession of the ball thanks to players like Belmar Joseph (SY) and Judiah Mathes (SY). Belmar came with a new intensity in the second half as he showcased his strength and vision on many occasions. His force complemented the defensive playstyle of Judiah, who refused to let anybody get by him. They controlled the midfield with intelligence using communication and tactical fouls,whenever needed, giving SBP the edge. Both teams had chances to alter the scoreline with their strong attacks, but it remained 1-0. Then, with seven minutes remaining in this momentous game, Ransford Gyan (UD2) displayed pure class as he set up Kwaku Agyabeng (UD1), who put it past the keeper.

St. Ignatius continued to fight with all they had to get their team on the scoreline. Their best efforts were still not enough to break the SBP back line consisting of goalkeeper Marcilio Soares (SY), fullbacks Jacob Molina (SY), Baden Wandling (UD1), and center backs Yuvraj Nagra (SY) and Gianni Rosario (UD1), who were a unified wall against their opponent.

Halftime pep talk after going up 1-0. (Shannen Chamba)

The final whistle blew, and everyone was ecstatic. After a hard-fought match, SBP won 2-0! The Gray Bees are back on top at the number one spot in the nation. The players fulfilled what they had set out to do. This memorable win has all the players saying, “Top 2 but not 2!”

With a close match between SBP and St. Ignatius, skill was not the deciding factor in who won this game. It was apparent that

SBP was more than just a team. They are and always have been – a family. The Gray Bees can face any challenge, and they will come out on top each time. They fight not for themselves but for one another. “It was a team effort,” said Judiah Mathes (SY).