One of the Greatest Nights Ever for Red Bank Kids

by David Prown

Last night, the 4th Annual Count Basie Cup Soccer Double Header between the Red Bank
Charter School and Red Bank Middle School was played at Count Basie Park. On the turf,
under the lights and in front of 100's and 100's of friends and family members, the games
were played with huge success and enthusiasm.

Originally scheduled to play 2 weeks ago, rain wiped out that night. All the stars were
aligned for the teams to play last night in their final game of the season. This event
was created 4 years ago by Enrico Ciabattoni and myself to have a true community
night that would be unforgettable for the kids and fans. Sort of Red Banks World
Cup played between and in front of friends (most of the kids know each other). Also,
by holding the game in the evening, ensured that hardworking parents whose jobs
don't allow them to attend 3:45 pm games after school, have a chance to watch their
kids play. Plus the opportunity to play with lighted
scoreboard, announcers, trophies, medals, tournament shirts, matching shoelaces
and more ensures a magical evening.

The event would not be possible with the Day 1 support of Troy Container Ltd of
Red Bank ( A sincere thank you to founder and owner,
Mike Troy, who has been a silent supporter of Red Bank kids for long time. His
sponsorship allows this to be a free event to the schools and the fans plus he
sponsored the collectible Neon Yellow shirts and matching soccer cleat shoelaces.

Though the temperature was in the chilly 40's, the stadium was rocking with endless
enthusiasm and off the charts positive, loud cheering. Game 1 was the 2nd
game of the season between the boys. RBCS won the 1st game 3-0 I think, but
on Count Basie Cup night, anything can and will happen.

It was clear from the onset that this friendly cross town rival featured many
talented players on both teams....this was gonna be a close game. Late in the
1st half RBCS 8th grader, Ryan Lefever (whose brother Chris played in the
inaugural 2010 game) had a beautiful corner kick that was knocked home by
fellow 8th grader Ian Birn (whose brother Tyler also played in that 2010 game).
Entering halftime, it was 1-0 RBCS, but it was anybodies game.

10 minutes into the 2nd half, RB Middle School's all - star and scoring machine,
Gerardo "Lightening" Perez scored off a corner kick to knot the score at 1-1...

Sure looked like we were heading to overtime until youth prevailed. One of the
smallest yet most talented players on the pitch, RBCS 6th Grader Zuri "Messi"
Mondesir scored on incredibly exciting breakaway goal. Shortly thereafter, the clock showed
0:00 and RBCS won 2-1.

Tremendous Goal play by both RBCS's Jack "Attack" MacPherson (whose brother Sam
played also in that 2010 game) and RBMS's 7th grader Masai Gray. The Charter School
was coached by Vern Ford and John Lefever (the coach of that 2010 team) while the
Middle School was coached by John Andranovitz and Julius Clark.

The series tally now stands at 2-2 and FYI, the Middle School won that inaugural
2010 game in a 3-2 thriller.

At the end of the game, the RBCS players were presented with Tournament Medals
and the team received the iconic Count Basie Cap traveling trophy (which will be
engraved). Plus they did the traditional team jog around the track holding the trophy

Shortly thereafter, the girls game began. It was definitely colder and the crowd
thinned a bit ... boy did they miss the game of the ages. Both girls teams had
pretty tough seasons. In fact, the Charter School hadn't scored a goal all

So when tiny Allison Francisco, a 6th grader, scored early in the 1st half, the
RBCS team and fans exploded with excitement. Just like game one, RBCS went
into halftime up 1-0 and then the Middle School came out firing in the 2nd

Late in the 2nd half, Jacqui "The Cannon" Valdetano (who scored the game
winning goal with 5 seconds to go in the game last year), looped a fine corner
kick into box. With that 8th grade all-star Britaney Gonzalez banged in the
goal to knot the score at 1-1.

Regulation ended with the scored tied at 1-1. The crowd was electric with excitement.
They played a 5 minute overtime, no one scored. Goalies Mari Osorio for
RMBS and Tamera Turner for RBCS were blocking everything.

So we went to a 2nd overtime period and that too ended still deadlocked at 1-1.
In the past, we've played the overtimes and ended there. However, the tremendous
referees (who called to beautiful controversial free game, informed the coaches and
players we would proceed to penalty kicks. No doubt this was a first for
many of the players.

The ref's selected the goal at the south end of the field and many fans moved
down that way (and onto the edge of the pitch). The tension was unconscious.
8th grader Jayne Cronin scored her P.K. (penalty kick) right off for RBCS and was
immediately matched by RBMS's 7th grader Desiree Marshall. Conventional wisdom
thought there would be a lot more goals. However, goalies Miss Osorio for
RBMS and 6th grader and 1st half goalie Taylor Crystian blocked the next 6
penalty kicks!!!!! That just doesn't happen. In the 5th and final round, 8th
grader Cameo Mooney calmly put one in to make the score 3-2 RBCS. Then
with stadium roaring and all eyes her, 8th grader Miss Gonzales knotted the
score at 3-3.

Pandemonium and confusion reigned...what was going to happen next? The
referees signaled for a sudden death round of penalty kicks. Clearly we were
amid an unforgettable evening. This format meant that RBCS would go 1st
and an RBMS player would either match the RBCS kickers effort or exceed it.

It was now round by round. In the 1st round, both goalie's made tremendous
saves. Round 2, Cameo Mooney scored again and "Prime Time" Jacqui
Valdetano matched her. It was now 4-4.

8th Grade captain Zoe Kelleher rammed home her goal to take a 5-4 lead and
thats the way it stayed when the final RBMS shot hit the cross bar and bounced

Fans rushed the field like it was an Ohio St./Michigan football game. What
excitement, what effort, what fun!!

RBCS had the medal and trophy ceremony (and lap) while RBMS had a beautiful
intra-team year end ceremony on the field with flowers for the girls - classy
touch coaches (now everybody went home with something in hand).

RBMS was coached by Adam Merklinger and Amy Campbell. Charter was
coached by Allison Wheeler and Raquel Rodriguez ('09 RBCS graduate) and
current member of the Brookdale soccer team that is #1 in the country.

Folks, nobody had more fun that night that Enrico and myself. Seeing a
beautiful community featuring and focusing on the kids of Red Bank is
a too uncommon sight. There is no doubt in my mind, that the kids will
remember details of this game for decades to come. We sure won't.

Yes, Jersey is getting the Super Bowl in February, but the '13 Count Basie
Cup will no doubt hold the hearts and memories of RB kids.

Good Stuff

(Picture is of the RBCS winning Girls team in the Free Neon tournament
T-shirts and cleat laces supplied by our sponsor Troy Container Ltd.)

About David Prown

David Prown's picture

David Prown

Red Bank, NJ


My name is David Prown and I am the 3rd generation owner of Prown's Home Improvements here in Red Bank. I have been working in the family business since 1989. I am a 4th generation Red Bank resident (and my kids are 5th Generation). I was raised in the spirit of community service, involvement, and commitment. I spend a couple hours every day volunteering with a specific emphasis on the underdog youth of Red Bank. It is my passion, my calling, and my gift to Red Bank. I can't get enough of giving back and not giving up. This blog allows me share with fellow Red Bank enthusiasts my passion for this town.

follow me on Twitter

Web Site Address