By Jim Hintelmann |
OAKHURST – When top-seeded and defending champion Christian Brothers Academy was upset by Toms River South in the boys soccer Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal on Saturday, it cleared a path for No. 2 Holmdel to win its first ever SCT title, and the Hornets moved to within a game of that goal with an impressive 4-0 shutout of No. 3 Jackson Memorial on Monday, Oct. 23.
The Hornets (16-1) used a balanced scoring attack with four different players scoring and Holmdel goalie Matt Lionette had to make only two saves as the Hornets outshot the Jaguars, 23-3.
“We came out today and played just the way we were capable of playing,” said Holmdel coach John Nacarlo. “Jackson has a great team that puts a lot of high pressure on you, but we did the job.”
Holmdel opened the scoring just seven minutes into the game when senior Jack Russo took a cross from Matt Leon and headed in a shot just in front of the goal. It was his first of the season.
“Russo has been playing in the midfield for us, and also some in the backfield,”’ said Narcarlo. “He got a great serve from Leon and headed it in very well.”
Holmdel missed several other good scoring chances in the first half, but quickly made it 2-0 just three minutes into the second half when Justin McStay got a feed from Anthony Arena and kicked it in from inside the right post. It was his 20th of the season.
“We gave it everything we had in the first half in order to see where that took us,” said McStay, who will attend West Point next season. “That was the way we approached it. When we get to the tournaments, the challenges are tougher.”
Leon and Eric Hinds added the final two goals of the game.
“We have a well-balanced team this year,” said Nacarlo. “We expected great things
and we just wanted to take care of business. That’s all.”
Holmdel’s only loss of the season was a 1-0 setback to state power Pingry, but that might have helped the Hornets since it wasn’t a division or tournament game.
“We came into the game a little cocky, but they had a great team, and we learned from it,” said McStay.
SHORE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT BOYS SOCCER FINAL
(2) Holmdel 16-1 vs. (5) Ocean Township 16-2-1
It’s an unusual home field advantage for the 5th seeded Spartans, which edged Toms River South, 3-2 in the second game of Monday’s semifinals at Ocean Township. Ocean came from behind to beat TRS. Job Cajas had two goals including a 40-yard free kick with 4:10 to go which was the game winner. The Shore Conference selected Ocean Township to host both the boys and girls semifinals and finals prior to the season, and the Spartans are riding hot into this one, bringing a 13-0-1 record since their last loss on Sept. 18 to Middletown North, 2-0. Holmdel has outscored its three opponents 12-0 on the way to the finals, while Ocean needed a shootout win on penalty kicks to advance in the first round and followed that with back-to-back one goal margin victories.
This article was first published in the Oct. 26-Nov. 2, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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