Yes, the long awaited move to Group 4 has arrived. Due to the increased enrollment of the district, it has been elevated to Group 4 status, meaning that it now competes against the largest school districts in New Jersey come postseason time.
After this change, it would be very easy to expect a drop off in performance, especially in light of last year’s record setting championship haul. However, the Kingsway athletic program maintained its excellence. Below is a rundown of what each team did:
Girls Tennis: Coach Michelle Carrocino, having graduated many girls from last year’s 12-6 team, found herself rebuilding but was able to see positive signs by the end of the season. With a record of 7-10, they finished second in the conference and qualified for the post-season, losing to third seeded Toms River North. Individually, they had four All-Tri-County Conference selections. With many underclassman on the roster, a deeper playoff run appears likely in the future.
Field Hockey: Having lost many girls from last year’s team that made it to the South Jersey final, Coach Sara Lewis had the task of reinventing the makeup of the team, and she did a masterful job of it. Led by captains Tori Danner, Jackie Neary, Danni Hall and Gabby Marcucci, the girls had a 14-4-2 record. They made it to the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Ocean City. With this year’s increased sense of unity and spirit, the future looks as bright as ever for the field hockey team.
Boys Soccer: Coach John Green’s boys continued to show that they were one of the premier soccer programs in South Jersey. They successfully defended their Tri-County Royal Division title with a record of 13-5-1. They qualified for the South Jersey Coaches Tourney which features the top 16 teams in South Jersey. They made it to the South Jersey Group 4 championship, losing in the quarterfinal round. Individually, they had eight All-Tri-County Conference selections. They were led statistically by Garrett Hoagland and Alec Sery, who both were All-State selections. More importantly, these young men were the recipients of the Jim Black Sportsmanship Award over 80 other schools, as selected by the South Jersey referees.
Football: With a potent running game led by Justin Morrison and All-South Jersey selection Ray Lawry, and a tenacious defense led by Denzel Polk, the football team, coached by Tony Barchuk, was able to secure a share of their second consecutive West Jersey Diamond Division title with a record of 8-3. They defeated Lacey, 52-17, in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, they lost to rival Timber Creek, a team comprised of a multitude of Division I signees. The Dragons finished with an 8-4 record and were ranked in the top 10 in South Jersey. Also of note, the Dragons cheerleading squad, led by Coach Dawn Marchetti, continued to show support and show that they are one of the most skilled squads in the area.
Girls Soccer: All that the girls’ soccer team, under Coach John Kodluk, did was tie the Kingsway record for most wins in a season. They had seven All-Tri-County Conference selections, and goal keeper Maria Kirby made the All-South and All-State teams. They ended their season in the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals in a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to arch nemesis Williamstown. The ladies finished with a record of 15-6-1 and were ranked in South Jersey throughout the entire season. Of special note, Coach Kodluk also garnered his 100th win.
Girls Cross Country: The girls, led by coach Christine Dacchille, won their second consecutive Tri-County Royal Division title with a 6-0 record. They also won the Tri-County Conference overall championship for the second consecutive year. They finished third at the South Jersey Group 4 championships, qualifying for the State Group 4 championships. The ladies finished ranked sixth in South Jersey. Individually, they had eight All-Tri-County Conference selections. With only two seniors this year, they should be in a similar position next fall.
Boys Cross Country: Coach Christian Lynch’s squad had another banner season, showing that they still are one of the top teams in New Jersey. They won their fifth South Jersey Open Division 3 title in the last eight years. They then picked up the Gloucester County championship. They qualified for the State Group 4 championships. They had a final South Jersey ranking of sixth and a ranking of twenty second in New Jersey. Individually, there were seven All-TCC Conference selections. Also, Noah Culbreath won the South Jersey Group 4 and Gloucester County titles, earning All-South Jersey and All-State honors.
Girls Volleyball: The volleyball team, under Coach Maggie Goodman, simply had the greatest season in school history. Led by All-State selection Jasmine McLaurin, they took it to another level, finishing with a record of 16-12. They, once again, made it to the state playoffs, where they were knocked out by state power Paramus. However, the highlight of the season ultimately was their claim to their school’s first volleyball Olympic Conference championship. This program has arrived!
Pundits were dismissive of Kingsway’s chances this season, based on the group change. The fall sports teams showed that they certainly were up to the task. This winter’s sports teams should continue this push towards Group 4 dominance. Go Dragons!