The 2023 Hudson County Finals, featuring high school teams, happened on Thursday.
Both the boys’ and girls’ finals were high-stakes affairs with thrilling finishes.

New York High School Sports
Saint Peter’s Prep poses with the 2023 Hudson County Boy’s Tournament trophy after beating Kearny High School, 2-1, at Red Bull Arena on Thursday, October 19 (Photo: Michael Battista)

The New York Red Bulls’ enter Decision Day today with hope; hope not just to make the MLS Cup Playoffs but to potentially host the Play-In game.

They need a win against Nashville, SC, to make that happen. However, playoff soccer did take place at Red Bull Arena this week. 

Before the big game in Tennessee, check out what happened in Harrison.

Kearny Girls Win 15th Straight Title

The opener on Thursday pitted #1 Bayonne High School against #3 Kearny High School. It was a rematch of last year’s final, which Kearny won 3-1. In an insane affair, neither team could find the game-winner after 100 minutes.

That’s two 40-minute halves and two 10-minute Extra-time halves. Kearny prevailed after seven rounds of penalty kicks, 4-3.

It is the Kearny girl’s 15th straight Hudson County title.

“This one’s special, it’s really for (the players),” said girls’ head coach Michael Sylvia.

“We had a challenging first half of the season. But we always knew that it’s really all about our chemistry, our fitness, how our injuries shake out as we get toward the playoffs. And we’re playing our best soccer now.”

The first goal of the match came unexpectedly, with three minutes to go in the first half. Freshman Melissa Mota intercepted a clearance from a Bayonne defender. Her shot arched the ball over Bayonne goalie Caitlin Gaetani in the 37th minute to make it 1-0.

Bayonne’s Noah Craft had a chance to equalize with just over seven minutes to play. Her shot from the right side sailed just over the crossbar into the South Ward. However, with three minutes to play, freshman forward Kylie Galano tied the game.

In penalty kicks, Kearny fell behind early and, in the third round, had an unbelievable situation. Kardinal sophomore Ava Natosi was stopped by the Bayonne keeper. However, the referee whistled, saying the keeper came off the line.

The second chance was also blocked, but again, the referee called the keeper off the line. A third attempt was once again blocked.

“They’re high school kids, they make mistakes (and) there’s gonna be let downs. But you gotta get the next one,” said coach Sylvia.

“Of course, that’s a wild moment. But wild things happen.”

Kearny was able to get back into it, and Bayonne hit their fifth-round attempt off the crossbar to force sudden death.

In the seventh round, Kearny freshman Makayla David scored on a shot inside the left post.

Keeper Aracely Vasquez made a diving save on the PK attempt by the Bees’ Riley Williams to give Kearny the win.

Saint Peter’s Prep Stuns Kardinals, Wins Boy’s Title

The night’s main event was a battle of two teams ranked in the state’s top 20. No. 12 St. Peter’s Prep, the top seed in the tournament, hosted No. 16 Kearny High School, the defending champion and second seed. The game looked destined for overtime before Prep hero Philip Sayouwoh scored with only minutes in the game to give his team the 2-1 win.

It is the Marauders’ first title in seven years, and it denies the Kardinals a three-beat.

The Kearny crowd was bigger than Prep’s, helped by the girls playing beforehand, but Marauders’ head coach Josh Jantus doesn’t think it mattered.

“Kearny had a lot of guys, but our guys were super loud,” said the coach after the match.

“Marauder nation really did a good job tonight.”

Neither team could get a foothold during the early going of the match. Similar to the team’s first meeting, in which Prep won in double OT thanks to the freshman Sayouwoh. A few weeks later, the rematch was a Kearny rout, with the Kardinals winning 5-0 at home.

Sayouwoh came up big mid-way through the first half with the opening goal to put his team ahead. A free kick into the box ended up near the left post. Neither team could get a foot to it before Sayouwoh slammed it in from point blank.

Two things started to happen from there. The game got more chippy, with Prep earning multiple yellow cards before the final whistle. That, in turn, kept giving Kearny great free-kick chances in the opposing end. That paid off with about 16 minutes to play. One kick found Hans Zoller, who slotted in a shot to the left corner to tie it up.

Sayouwoh solidified himself as the hero of the match and bane of Kearny with 2:22 to go. Breaking past a Kearny defender on the left side, he shot the ball into the opposite side, netting to send the Prep side of the stadium wild.

“(Philip) has been coming off the bench all year,” coach Janus said.

“Obviously, he’s good enough to be an 80-minute game player. But we have 22 guys (who can be too). So everyone shares minutes, and that goes a long way.”

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