The Wildwood Catholic High School boys soccer program has been successful this year on the pitch, as can be witnessed by the fact that they have a winning record against sturdy competition, and qualified for the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public B Sectional Tournament.
Credit for these accolades deserves to be spread around, and that includes captains Tommy Bolle and Sean Dougherty.
"Captains are voted upon by the team,'' said Wildwood Catholic head coach Jim Lushok. “Coaches only vote in a tiebreaker situation. I believe that Tommy was voted by his teammates as a captain due to his play on the field. He goes out and leads by example on the field.
"Sean was selected for his competitive personality and his ability to rise up the play of those around him.''
Dougherty started playing soccer at the travel team level at the age of seven.
"Probably how high tempo of the game is what attracted me to start playing,'' Dougherty said. "I love to run and throughout the sport, you're always moving around. I was big into football when I was younger, but because of my size, it would have been hard to have success in it.
"My parents pushed me to play as many sports as I could, and that's where I found a love for soccer. The most positive influences of my career have been my parents. They were the ones who introduced me to the game and kept pushing me.
"There were times, I thought [I was] about to stop playing to focus on only one sport instead of many, but they were always there to tell me to keep grinding, and I am very grateful for that.''
Dougherty's speed and stamina are some of his strengths on the field.
"Some aspects of the game I could use improvement on are my ball handling and my shot accuracy,'' Dougherty said. "I like to rely on my speed too much, instead of handling the ball. I also can hit a ball pretty hard, but without good accuracy, it does not matter.
"The biggest personal goal is easily to lead my team to a winning season. Winning is above everything else. On the side, two other personal goals would be to break the school's single-season goal scoring record, and the school's career goal record.
"As the season is running to an end, and if things go right, I believe I have a chance of fulfilling all three goals. As a team, I would love for us to win a playoff game and win the division.''
Bolle was 5-years-old when he began competing in the community recreational program. He is a four-year member of the Wildwood Catholic team. He enjoys the physicality of the sport, the team aspect, and the rules of the game.
"Some of my strengths as a soccer player are that I am tall, fast, strong, and most importantly a team player,'' Bolle said. “Some aspects I would like to improve on in this sport are my ball touch skills and my foot strength. The major positive influences in my career have been my coaches, brothers, and teammates who constantly push me to be better.
"[Among] personal goals for the season are to win our remaining games, continually get better in all parts of the game, and encourage my teammates to do the same. Some goals that I would like to see my team achieve this season are to finish strong and represent Wildwood Catholic well. It would be great to win the South Jersey final.''
The Crusaders are sitting atop the standings in the Cape Atlantic League United Division, and are seeded fourth in the South Jersey Non Public B bracket. Through Oct. 23, they had an overall record of 10-8.
"I think that the student-athletes, especially the ones I have had this season, helped to set a good example of how to handle the stresses and burdens that come from being committed to common goals and helping each other to achieve them,'' said Lushok. "We set out early to be successful in our divisional games, and at 9-1, we did just that."
"Our keeper, Tyler Cruz, has really helped us stay in some games making some nice stops over the season. Scott Fiore has been a steady defender on the backline, even when we ask too much of him. Midfielder Conor Farrell has been asked to move around a lot and fill in where needed and has never once complained about his role.
"For a school whose enrollment is under 200 kids, the student-athletes find themselves playing multiple sports over the course of a year. I know how difficult it is to balance school, sports, work, and life, and many of these kids are doing just that at such a young age.
"It is a testament to their work ethic and what Wildwood Catholic is really about.''