Joey Gudzak of East Brunswick is the Home News Tribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Joey Gudzak of East Brunswick is the Home News Tribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year


Joey Gudzak of East Brunswick is the Home News Tribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year


Joey Gudzak is the type of player that fits the perfect embodiment of what a coach wants in a player.

Whether it was getting his head on a key ball, stepping up and making a critical play in a late game situation, or being a leader on and off the field, Gudzak, a senior midfielder for the East Brunswick boys soccer team, was a critical component to all the success the Bears saw this season as they won Red Division and Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament titles.

Gudzak is the Home News Tribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

“He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever coached, one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever coached,” ninth-year East Brunswick coach Terry McKibbin said. “He’s the only captain I’ve ever had that’s been a junior captain. What’s significant is that the players, they’re a big part of the process, picked him as a junior and that’s never happened before.”

Gudzak, a three-year varsity starter, made the move to a more offensive-minded role this season in the midfield after being a defender the previous two years.

“He’s probably one of the best defenders in the state and I could have easily put him in the middle of our defense, but he’s so good at winning balls that we put him in the midfield and he was able to score too,” McKibbin said.

His numbers may not be flashy — he scored seven goals with three assists — but when he did score, they were in big spots as five of the seven goals were game winners, including a first half goal in the GMCT final against South Brunswick, which the Bears won 2-0.

“It was definitely a great experience,” Gudzak said of winning the GMCT. “Also having South Brunswick bring back a player (Kyle Goodwin) that wasn’t normally on their team during the year, everyone was hyped up about that so going into that game our team was really pumped up. We just went 100 percent just to win it. We beat that team two times before, so we just wanted to win the third time.”

It was quite the game to remember for Gudzak.

Not only did East Brunswick capture its first full share of a GMC title since 2007 (co-championship in 2011), but after going up for a header late in the first half, colliding heads with another player, and getting a cut in the back of his head, Gudzak had to switch his jersey twice before finishing the game with his head all wrapped up.

“I was going up for a corner and one of the kids looked at me and saw blood and I was like ‘what are you talking about’ and then I saw the back of my head and there was blood all over my jersey,” Gudzak said. “I switched jerseys and came back in but blood was still dripping down my head, so I had to change jerseys again and finally I got my head wrapped up.”

Gudzak is verbally committed to play at Monmouth University next season, where he’ll be focusing on his defensive mentality.

When he goes to college, he’s going to be a defender, a great defender,” McKibbin said. “The fact that he really raised his game and scored goals for us (this season) really tells you a lot about the kind of player he is.”


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