Union boys’ soccer captures share of UCT championship to hoist trophy for first time since 1999

PHOTO COURTESY OF LESTER LEMBRYK – The Union boys’ soccer team has gone from 0-16-3 to 13-0-3 in one year en route to capturing a share of the Union County Tournament championship.

For the Union boys’ soccer team it really didn’t matter that it shared the Union County Tournament championship with two-time defending (once shared) champion Westfield.
A year ago the Farmers didn’t win a single UCT contest. They didn’t win a single game – for that matter – finishing with one of the worst records in program history – 0-16-3.
Twelve months later a sooner-than-later highly-dramatic turnaround saw Union not only capture a share of the county championship to hoist the trophy for the first time since 1999, but the Farmers did so this time without a loss.
Union’s record moved to 13-0-3 after the fourth-seeded Farmers battled third-seeded Westfield to a 1-1 draw in the Oct. 26 UCT championship game played at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium.
“We played well and Westfield played well, but hats off to us,” Union head coach Lester Lembryk said. “We would have liked to have won it straight out.
“I’m just so proud of our boys.”
Union only won three games two years ago. After last year’s team – a very young one at that – continued to struggle from a won-loss standpoint, the Farmers were dropped from the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division to the Mountain Division.
Not only did a more experienced Union team flourish in the Mountain Division – Union was leading the seven-team standings at 8-0-1 with three games to go as of Oct. 28 – but the Farmers also excelled against teams from the Watchung Division.
Union battled Summit to a 0-0 tie Sept. 18 at home and then ousted the fifth-seeded Hilltoppers 1-0 at home in the UCT quarterfinals.
Union then knocked off defending co-champion and top-seeded Elizabeth 2-1 in overtime in the UCT semifinals before producing its tie against Westfield in the UCT final.
That meant Union went a combined 2-0-2 vs. Watchung Division teams.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Lembryk, who succeeded longtime mentor Jim Jeskey as Union’s head boys’ soccer coach in 2008, moving up from assistant status. “We’ve gotten great leadership, with our seniors assisting our younger players.”
In the UCT final, just like in its semifinal against Elizabeth, Union fell behind 1-0. Westfield leading scorer Evan Meade gave the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead in the first half on a shot from 25 yards out.
As it did against Elizabeth, Union came back to tie the game at 1-1. Ulisses Silguero took a pass from midfielder Jeremy Fonseca and headed a shot past Westfield goalkeeper Julian Trott some 15 minutes after Westfield went ahead.
Neither team scored in the second half or both sudden death overtime periods.
Going to penalty kicks to determine the champion was not agreed upon.
Union senior keeper Manny Melendez made 12 saves, including a couple of big ones in overtime. Trott was credited with nine.
Since Union moved to the Mountain Division, Union and Westfield did not face each other until the UCT final.
“We made some adjustments and prepared for Westfield like any other game,” Lembryk said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our boys. It was all about them.”
In Union’s UCT semifinal win over Elizabeth it was sophomore Michael Simoes who tied the game at 1-1 with Union’s first goal, coming in the second half.
Senior striker and captain Andre Vieira produced the game-winning goal – his team-leading 22nd of the season – on a penalty kick in single overtime.
NOTES: Union received the fourth seed in North 2, Group 4 and was to host 13th-seeded Bayonne Oct. 29. The semifinals are scheduled for Oct. 31, with Union to be home if it advanced.

2018 UNION FARMERS:
00-Cameron Cole, senior
0-Zach Similia, sophomore
1-Manny Melendez, senior-GK
2-Kyle Pereira, senior
3-Julian Cruz, senior
4-David Sanchez, senior
5-Michael Tavares, sophomore
6-Justin Novoa, junior
7-Matthew Rocha, senior
8-Jeremy Fonseca, sophomore
9-Andre Vieira, senior
10-Ulisses Silguero, senior
11-Matthew Possidonio, junior
12-Lucas Dias, sophomore
13-Ebenezer Boah, senior
14-Don Telusma, senior
15-Joel Genao, sophomore
16-Nicholas Correia, sophomore
17-Randy Avila, senior
18-Lucas Duque, sophomore
19-Michael Simoes, sophomore
20-Kerin St. Clair, sophomore
21-Nicolas Sanchez, sophomore
22-Nelson Val, senior
23-Kodie Sarkodie, sophomore
24-Karl Celestin, sophomore
25-Kevin Couto, junior
27-Joshua Brito, sophomore
Head coach: Lester Lembryk,
11th season

2018 UCT BOYS’ SOCCER

SEEDS: 1-Elizabeth. 2-Scotch Plains. 3-Westfield. 4-Union
5-Summit. 6-Cranford. 7-Roselle. 8-Plainfield.
9-Dayton. 10-Gov. Livingston. 11-Rahway. 12-New Providence.
13-Oratory Prep. 14-Johnson. 15-Linden. 16-Union Catholic.
17-Brearley. 18-Hillside. 19-Roselle Park. 20-Roselle Catholic.

PRELIMINARY ROUND:
Dayton 2, Union Catholic 1
Plainfield 3, Brearley 0
Summit 11, Roselle Catholic 0
New Providence 4, Oratory Prep 1
Gov. Livingston 5, Linden 2
Roselle 3, Hillside 2
Cranford 4, Roselle Park 1
Johnson 3, Rahway 2

FIRST ROUND:
Plainfield 4, Dayton 0
Summit 5, New Providence 2
Roselle 1, Gov. Livingston 0
Cranford 2, Johnson 0

QUARTERFINALS:
Elizabeth 3, Plainfield 2
Union 1, Summit 0
Scotch Plains 2, Roselle 0
Westfield 3, Cranford 2

SEMIFINALS:
Saturday, Oct. 20
At Johnson High School
Union 2, Elizabeth 1 (OT)
Westfield 1, Scotch Plains 1 (PKs 8-7)

FINAL:
Friday, Oct. 26
At Kean University
Union 1, Westfield 1
Co-champions

UCT BOYS’ SOCCER
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SCORES
1966-2018:

1966: Edison Tech 2, Westfield 1
1967: Union 2, Westfield 1
1968: Edison Tech 1, Pingry 0
1969: Scotch Plains 2, Johnson 1
1970: Pingry 0, Scotch Plains 0 – co-champs
1971: Gov. Livingston 1, Pingry 0
1972: Gov. Livingston 1, Johnson 0
1973: Gov. Livingston 1, Edison Tech 0
1974: Pingry 1, Westfield 0
1975: Pingry 1, Johnson 0
1976: Summit 1, Pingry 1 – co-champs
1977: Pingry 2, Scotch Plains 0
1978: Union 2, Linden 0
1979: Gov. Livingston 3, Westfield 2
1980: Summit 2, Westfield 2 – co-champs
1981: Westfield 3, Summit 1
1982: Westfield 8, Scotch Plains 0
1983: Pingry 2, Westfield 1
1984: Westfield 4, New Providence 1
1985: Westfield 3, Scotch Plains 2
1986: Scotch Plains 1, Westfield 0
1987: Scotch Plains 2, Westfield 1
1988: Westfield 2, Scotch Plains 1
1989: Scotch Plains 1, Westfield 0 (shootout)
1990: Union 3, Elizabeth 0
1991: Westfield 1, Cranford 0
1992: Scotch Plains 2, Westfield 1
1993: Westfield 2, Scotch Plains 1
1994: Gov. Livingston 2, Westfield 1
1995: Johnson 2, Union 1
1996: Westfield 1, Rahway 0
1997: Scotch Plains 3, Elizabeth 0
1998: Scotch Plains 2, Cranford 0
1999: Union 2, Scotch Plains 0
2000: Scotch Plains 2, Johnson 0
2001: Scotch Plains 1, Johnson 0
2002: Scotch Plains 1, Cranford 0
2003: Linden 1, Scotch Plains 0
2004: Scotch Plains 1, Union 0
2005: Elizabeth 4, Scotch Plains 3
2006: Scotch Plains 4, Union 2
2007: Scotch Plains 4, Elizabeth 0
2008: Elizabeth 1, Summit 0
2009: Cranford 1, Westfield 0
2010: Westfield 2, Scotch Plains 1 (OT)
2011: Scotch Plains 1, Union 0
2012: Scotch Plains 5, Gov. Livingston 2
2013: Scotch Plains 4, Elizabeth 2
2014: Scotch Plains 2, Westfield 1
2015: Scotch Plains 1, Elizabeth 0 (OT)
2016: Westfield 2 Scotch Plains 1
2017: Westfield 1, Elizabeth 1 – co-champs
2018: Westfield 1, Union 1 – co-champs

CHAMPIONSHIPS
1966-2018:
Scotch Plains 19 (1 shared)
Westfield 13 (3 shared)
Pingry 6 (2 shared)
Gov. Livingston 5
Union 5 (1 shared)
Edison Tech 2
Elizabeth 2 (1 shared)
Summit 2 (both shared)
Johnson 1
Linden 1
Cranford 1

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
APPEARANCES
1966-2018:
Scotch Plains 29
Westfield 25
Elizabeth 11 (includes Edison Tech 3)
Union 9
Pingry 8
Gov. Livingston 6
Johnson 6
Summit 4
Cranford 4
Linden 2

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