Mission possible: Cinnaminson boys soccer team seeks to continue last years momentum

After forfeiting 2020 postseason run due to COVID, Pirates look to make up for lost opportunity

The Cinnaminson boy’s soccer team ended last season, according to many of the team’s key returning players, feeling rather unsatisfied. 

With a shorter season than usual, and a modified postseason due to the pandemic, many teams across South Jersey were just happy to play whenever possible.

Fortunately, the Pirates were able to get through their regular season without many problems or the need to reschedule games due to COVID, which wasn’t always the case at other area schools. But unfortunately, a school-wide shutdown and remote learning move ordered by the Burlington County Department of Health last fall ended the Pirates’ season one game into the state tournament, also ending the schools girls soccer, football and field hockey seasons as well.

“There was just so much more to be desired that we left out there from last year,”  senior Nate Weick said.

The shutdown ended what was arguably the team’s best season in recent memory, a record of 8-1-2 before play stopped. Even more difficult to stomach, Cinnaminson may have peaked at that time: The team shutout its last three opponents before the schedule was cut short, with its last victory being a 6-0 victory over Haddon Heights in the opening round of the South, West C, Group 2 Tournament.

The rest of the postseason run had to be forfeited.

“We ended last year on a win, which is something you can’t really say too often,” Weick said. “It was just such a completely different season than any other season we’d ever experienced.”

But the frustration and disappointment over how it all ended in 2020 has only fueled the desire of this year’s team to make up for what may have felt like a lost opportunity.

“We were a very close-knit team last year, even despite the virtual stuff and social distancing stuff we had to do,” senior Sean Kennedy said. “The team this year wants to keep up what we had going last year, and kind of do it in honor of them and what could’ve been last year.”

Kennedy is entering his third season as the Pirates’ goalkeeper, and he believes  Cinnaminson has a great chance to keep its opponents from scoring due to an experienced and talented backfield. He’s aiming for as many shutouts as possible.

“Obviously, I want to have as many clean sheets as possible, and with the defense in front of me, I think that’s possible to do,” Kennedy said. “But more importantly, I just want to win each game that we get to and end up going undefeated, which means we’ll have to just take it one game at a time, like we’ve been talking about, and not get ahead of ourselves.”

Matt Digney, in his fourth year as head coach of the Pirates, said the team’s chemistry and ability to play and work together is one of the key reasons it has flourished in recent years with an enthusiastic group of student-athletes.

“I think we have a very good returning team with our senior and junior classes,” Digney said. “They have a tremendous amount of varsity experience even from some of their freshmen years.

“I really like our team chemistry,” the coach added. “The guys genuinely like each other and that’s not something that’s coachable. You either have it or you don’t,  and they understand the work that you have to put in and the teamwork that it takes.”