Cardinals Head to OFSAA with Undefeated Record

Cardinals Head to OFSAA with Undefeated Record and High Hopes
Posted on 06/05/2024

By Larry Moko

The St. John Henry Newman Cardinals are poised to embark on another high school soccer adventure.

Earlier this season, the Newman senior boys’ team flew to Miami, to compete in a college showcase against some strong competition. Now, they’re making final preparations for a trip to Windsor for the June 6-8 OFSAA championship.

The Cardinals captured a silver medal at the 2023 all-Ontario finale in the AAA division. This time around, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association representatives enter the 20-team OFSAA tournament as the No. 2 seed with an undefeated record.

“I know we’re a mature group and we’re well prepared,” Newman coach Gerry Moretuzzo said.

The veteran Cardinals coach describes the Miami experience as “awesome” and beneficial in many ways.

“We had three games and we ended up winning the group,” he said. “I thought we were the best structured and best-balanced team.

“Miami was a bonding thing for us, too. Of course we had a couple of days at the beach. That was a lot of fun. Contacts were also made with some of the schools (for potential scholarships).”

Newman heads to Windsor vying for its fifth-ever OFSAA gold medal (1978, ’83, ’87 and ’91.)

 “We have high standards,” Moretuzzo said. “We try to uphold the expectations that have been set for many years. So it’s a little bit of pressure.”

The Cardinals will be in round-robin group with Sacred Heart, St. Basil the Great, Kingston S.S. and St. Ignatius. The top seed --- Mother Teresa – returns after edging Newman in last year’s championship game.

“It’s always exciting going to OFSAA,” Moretuzzo said. “I don’t ever take it for granted how hard it is to get there. We work our butts off just trying to get out of our own league every year.”

After battling back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Bishop Ryan Celtics 3-2 in the most recent HWCAA final, the Cardinals kept up that momentum with a pair of Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference playoff victories over Oakville opponents.

First, Newman topped the White Oaks Wildcats, 3-2, and then, in the GHAC final, edged the Loyola Hawks, 2-1. Massimo Cudo scored twice for the Cardinals while singles went to Adams Yusuph, Kenan Hodzic and Stefan Trkulja.

“Against White Oaks, we started off really strong but didn’t capitalize,” Moretuzzo said. “I thought we always had the game under control.”
Then came Loyola, which blanked Bishop Ryan 2-0 in their semifinal. The Hawks came in undefeated, having scored 51 goals while allowing just one.

“That was a tough game. We played fantastic,” the Cardinals coach said. “It was one of our best all-around games of the year. Both of our goals were scored on set pieces which we spend a lot of time practicing.”

Moretuzzo said goalkeeper Anthony Villella stood out again by making a penalty shot save and Hodzic continued to score goals.

“Anthony, who is in Grade 9, made a penalty shot save in our league championship, too. He was hoisted off the field by fifth-year high school guys after the game … you can’t ask for better than that.”

“Kenan has not only been on a roll, he’s trying to balance his opportunities with Hamilton Forge. They’ve been bringing him up for some training sessions. It’s all working out for Kenan, which is nice.”

The other players Newman will bring to OFSAA are Ethan Crossan, Lucas DiMarco, Mateo Soares, Miles Phillips, Cristiano Kremenjas, Logan Ras, Macauley Wellstead, Michael Ciarmoli, Miguel Monzon, Juan Franco-Trujlo, Sebastian Ochoa-Aispuro, Nowah Annandsingh, Tatenda Maningi, Alex Lucato and Nick Hrvatin.

Moretuzzo is part of a five-man coaching staff which includes principal Anthony Macaluso, vice-principal Anthony Falconio, Guy Venneri and Paul Bozzo.

“We’ve got a strong leadership base and the players all buy in,” Moretuzzo said. “We’re here in the school, connected to the kids.”