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The Record

Hawthorne coach Jim Clementi was doing a bit of scoreboard watching Monday night, keeping tabs on Glen Rock — its closest competitor in the NJIC Colonial division.

When receiving word that the Panthers lost to Garfield, he knew the Bears had secured a share of the league title.

Hawthorne wasn’t content, though, with a shared crowd. On Tuesday, the Bears clinched the outright league title with a 1-1 tie with Pompton Lakes, completing the seemingly out-of-nowhere championship after finishing below .500 in 2012.

“The kids are pumped up,” said Clementi, whose team is 13-1-1 in league play. “They worked so hard this off-season to get better, and no one really expected much from us. I think we were thought of as a middle-of-the-pack team. But they just gained confidence early on and never looked back.”

Forward Brandon Cruz leads the Bears, who average 3.35 goals per game, with 25 goals.

“He’s big, he’s fast and his pace is just different than other guys in the league,” Clementi said about Cruz. “He creates a good four or five chances on his own it seems like every game.”

Sophomore midfielder Ariton Mimini, who Clementi said is the “the playmaker of the team,” has six goals and 15 assists, tied with Nick Miller for the team lead in assists.

“He’s really the creative guy out there for us,” Clementi said of Mimini. “We’ve scored a lot of goals this year (57) and we’ve created a lot of chances. Luckily, we’ve been finishing.”Hawthorne HS Logo