Soccer - Boys' Varsity
After graduating from Pennington, Chad Bridges '96 became a four-year starter on Lenny Armuth’s soccer team at Drew University and captained the squad to its second consecutive NCAA tournament in 1999. Now he is back at Pennington, coming full circle to coach one of the top soccer programs in the region.
“It’s the best to be back at a place I love that means so much to me. Pennington helped shape me as an athlete and a person,” said Bridges, who is also the Coaching Director of Next Level Soccer Academy, a club he founded.
Bridges earned numerous all-conference and all-region accolades during his junior and senior years at Pennington, in addition to being honored as one of the fiercest defenders in the nation. Bridges holds a National Diploma from the United Soccer Coaches Association. He is proud to have played – and continue to play – such a prominent role in a strong tradition of success.
Coach Bridges is joined on the varsity boys’ soccer coaching staff by assistant coach Billy Hawkey ’10.Like Bridges, Hawkey is a former standout player for Pennington, having helped lead the Red Raiders to the Prep B title in 2008 and the program’s first-ever appearance in the Prep A final in 2009. Hawkey received numerous All-State and All-Area honors. Hawkey went on to excel at Connecticut College, where his playing career culminated with his being named their first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year in 2014. Hawkey also garnered First Team All-NESCAC and First Team All-New England honors in both his junior and senior seasons. Hawkey was also named a United Soccer Coaches Association All-American in 2014. The Bridges-Hawkey tandem continues to lead Pennington's boys' soccer program to unprecedented success.
Pennington’s soccer program began in 1932, as a result of the efforts of Dean Nelson and Henry Eleniewski. The program won eight Prep B Championships during a thirteen-year period from 1979 to 1991, and more recently the Red Raiders won the Prep B title in the fall of 2008. Since that time, Pennington has played in the NJISAA Prep A state tournament.
In 2012, the team won its first Mercer County Tournament (MCT) championship, defeating Trenton Catholic Academy in a night game played at Rider University. The game marked the second time Pennington played in the championship contest of the prestigious and highly competitive MCT. Pennington added its second Mercer County Tournament title in 2015 and has also won the title in 2016 and 2017. The 2017 team opened up their season as the USA Today's Number One high school team in the nation.
The Red Raiders also won the first NJISAA Prep A soccer title in School history in 2016 as they defeated St. Benedict's Prep 3-1 in the championship game, which was played at home on the Tom Liwosz Turf Field. St. Benedict's had won the Prep A title 27 times prior to Pennington's impressive victory. The boys' team ended up with a number-four berth in the Top Drawer soccer national rankings.
The program has produced several college-level players at schools such as University of Richmond, Connecticut College, Lafayette, University of Maryland, Quinnipiac, Rutgers, Hamilton College, University of Virginia, University of Connecticut, Amherst College, Franklin & Marshall, St. Louis University, and Drew University.
“I’m very proud of the boys who have come through the program and who are still actively playing," says Coach Bridges. "Pennington helps shape and mold kids to be successful, here and after they leave.”
Chad Bridges '96
Billy Hawkey '10