Category Archives: Boys Soccer

Knights finally get by Cougars for state title

Nicolas Ricciardi of Gill St. Bernard's moves the ball past Montclair Kimberley Academy's Daniel Barrett (12) in the Non-Public B final at The College of New Jersey on Monday. Photo by: Robert Ward

Nicolas Ricciardi of Gill St. Bernard’s moves the ball past Montclair Kimberley Academy’s Daniel Barrett (12) in the Non-Public B final at The College of New Jersey on Monday. Photo by: Robert Ward

EWING — The third time was a charm for The Gill St. Bernard’s School boys soccer team. Behind second-half goals from Justin Durcan and James Reiner, the Knights finally got past Montclair Kimberley in the NJSIAA Non-Public B Final, 2-0, Monday evening at Lions Stadium on the campus of The College of New Jersey.

The two teams had met in this matchup in each of the last two seasons, with Montclair Kimberley winning both times, but the Gill St. Bernard’s two stars ensured it wouldn’t happen again.

“We’ve viewed it this way: for this year’s team, with so many departing seniors, it was good to get back here,” Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Tony Bednarsky said. “As a program, we needed this one. Hats off to MKA, they played great, but we’ve been bridesmaids to them the last two years and it’s finally nice to get the monkey off of our backs.”

Durcan’s goal in the 45th minute proved to be the game-winner once he ran through the Montclair Kimberley defense and finished on his right foot from inside the box. The tally was his 21st of the season, but Reiner one-upped his classmate.

With 7:50 remaining, Durcan played a free kick into the box, where Reiner worked it to his feet. The senior turned and ripped a shot past MKA goalkeeper David Kauffman to double the lead and put it out of reach. It was his 23rd goal of the season and ended any chance the Cougars had at making it three straight state titles.

“I had a couple of chances throughout the game, but I just stayed persistent throughout the entire game and I knew that it was going to come and I just took advantage of the opportunity,” Reiner said. “Losing to them two years in a row were two of the hardest things I ever had to go through, so we just kept believing that we had the squad to come back this year and take care of business. We just stayed persistent and stayed focused.”

On Nov. 3, the Knights topped Montclair Kimberley 4-1 for the Prep B title, as Durcan registered a hat trick. His goal didn’t put Gill St. Bernard’s at ease on Monday night, according to Bednarsky, but Reiner’s did.

“The first goal was very important, but I don’t know if we felt more at ease after it,” Bednarsky said. “But after the second goal, we definitely did. Reiner has been doing that on set pieces for us all year and that allowed us to breathe a lot easier.”

Montclair Kimberley turned up the pressure in the second half, using their stars Malcolm Dixon and Wesley Wade, both of whom are committed to play at the University of Virginia in two years, but goalkeeper Jordan Schreer had all the answers. The junior made seven saves to pitch the shutout, which was impressive to his coach.

“Jordan played great. He was more than stellar in goal for us tonight,” Bednarsky said.

Gill St. Bernard’s has now won two NJSIAA state titles in school history, with the first coming in 2009, when the Knights beat St. Rose.


Third time’s a charm as Bridgewater-Raritan beats North Hunterdon

CLINTON — Come state tournament time, the chance to see a team for a third time is presented, and in the case of the Bridgewater-Raritan High School boys soccer team, the third time was the charm against North Hunterdon.

Just seconds after being taken down along the sideline to win a free kick, Andrew Masur pounced on a loose ball in front of the net and knocked it home for the contest’s lone goal, lifting ninth-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan over eighth-seeded North Hunterdon 1-0 in a NJSIAA North 2 Group IV first-round game on Tuesday.

The Panthers advance to Friday’s quarterfinals and a matchup against No. 1 seed Watchung Hills, which advanced by knocking out Ridge 3-0.

After a scoreless first half in which Bridgewater-Raritan held the majority of the possession but was unable to get a goal to show for it, Masur went to work in the 43rd minute. The senior captain made a strong run down the right wing towards the sideline but was taken out on the play by a North Hunterdon defender, earning a free kick. Classmate Josh Rich stepped up and played a nice ball into the Lions’ box, where it bounced around for a few seconds before Masur jumped on it and beat North Hunterdon goalkeeper Jon Scott.

“I got fouled and I thought it was a little bit of a cheap shot, and Josh just put a good ball in for me on the free kick,” Masur said. “I just saw it there and jumped on it and knocked it in.”

The Panthers, who had lost to North Hunterdon twice in the regular season by 2-1 scores both times, knew that if they were going to reverse that trend, they would need Masur and Rich to carry them.

“I thought that today Andrew Masur and Josh Rich played their best games, in terms of effort on the field, of the season,” Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Rick Szeles said. “Andrew had to get up and play; I challenged him before the game, I told him he had to carry the team and he did that.”

Rich ended up getting the game’s second-best chance five minutes after Masur’s goal, but his shot on a mini-breakaway was high over the bar. From there, Bridgewater-Raritan focused its energy on stopping North Hunterdon from earning an equalizer, in particular doing its best to shut down senior forward Logan Ventura.

“We dealt with Ventura’s long throw much better today,” Panthers goalkeeper Amit Mohan said. “He beat us twice with it last time and we knew that we’d have to shut it down and we did a good job with it today.”

Mohan came up with a few solid saves on the day to earn the shutout, but North Hunterdon simply couldn’t put multiple passes together to come up with a quality scoring chance. Szeles preached to his squad that they were playing a team that was very evenly skilled to them and that it wouldn’t be easy to walk away victorious.

“North Hunterdon put a lot of pressure on us and Amit played well. We just played strong soccer and I told the kids that if we played North Hunterdon 10 times, it would be split; we’d win five and they’d win five. That’s how close we are,” Szeles said.

South River romps past Woodbridge in opener

SOUTH RIVER — For the South River High School boys soccer team, the 2012 season ended on a sour note, as the Rams’ magical campaign came to an end in a penalty kick shootout loss to Haddon Heights in the NJSIAA Group I semifinals.

But if there were any lingering doubts about whether or not the Rams could rebound and start their 2013 season with a bang, they were quickly erased Friday afternoon as South River dominated Woodbridge 9-2 in both schools’ season opener.

Senior striker Glauber Ferreira scored four first-half goals, including a beautiful header from the top of the box, as the Rams built a 6-0 halftime advantage. Miguel Joao and Rolando Martinez also connected in the opening 40 minutes for South River.

“The way we’ve practiced, we are able to read each other well and it’s just a lot of skill on the ball. My focus is to score as a striker and that’s what I came to do today,” Ferreira said.

The first of Ferreira’s goals came after Adrian Pietrzyk stole the ball around midfield from a Woodbridge player, dribbled up the sideline, and lofted a perfect feed into the box.

About 20 minutes later, Ian Sawicki cleared the ball halfway down the field, finding Ferreira beyond his man for an easy goal.

“When the guys are playing with a certain rhythm, we get a lot of scoring chances,” South River head coach Eric Clays said. “We were very unselfish today and we communicated well in the attacking third. That was probably a key to us putting in as many goals as we did.”

Ferreira noted that he and his teammates worked hard this summer to move on from last season’s bitter end and on this day, the effort was clearly evident.

“We always come out here focused and we have each other’s back. We let the soccer do the talking,” Ferreira said.

Eugene Frimpong scored both of Woodbridge’s goals in the second half, one on a header off a corner kick and the other on a blast from beyond the 18-yard box late in the contest. It was the first of Frimpong’s goals that concerned Clays.

“Corners, for us on defense, became a little bit of a circus in our box,” he said. “We need to get back to practice and work on defensive marking. But, I thought the back line did a good job of holding a good Woodbridge team to only two goals; I would have thought that holding them to under three goals would have been a victory in itself.”

Pietrzyk also converted a header off of a South River corner in the second half and Kevin Mendez knocked home a late goal. But the defensive effort, with a big lead, in the first game of the season, was the thing that Clays took away from this one.

“I was very happy with the defensive effort from start to finish for the whole 80 minutes. It’s common for athletes to lose a little bit of focus when the game is in hand and let up, but I liked our mental toughness today,” he said.

Buffolino’s goal lifts Monroe boys to upset of North Brunswick

EAST BRUNSWICK — All fourth-seeded Monroe needed was one opportunity, one look at the goal, and they knew they’d have a chance to score an upset victory. And 43 seconds into the second overtime period Thursday night, the Falcons got that opportunity and Luigi Buffolino seized it, ripping the game’s only goal into the back of the net, giving Monroe a 1-0 win over top-seeded North Brunswick in the Greater Middlesex County Tournament semifinals.

The Falcons will play third-seeded South Brunswick in the finals on Saturday afternoon.

Fellow forward Sean Doyle got the assist on Buffolino’s tally, which came after the two teams battled to a stalemate for the game’s first 90 minutes. As the ball rolled past the end line, Buffolino ripped his jersey off, running around to meet his exuberant teammates, while the Raiders fell to their knees in disbelief.

“Sean Doyle played me the ball and I saw an opportunity and I just wanted to win the game, and I put it in the back of the net,” Buffolino said. “Sean and I didn’t play that well tonight, but scoring the winning goal is a great memory.”

The Falcons controlled the ball for the majority of the second half, after making some adjustments at halftime, and got the better of the scoring chances after intermission. For the game, Monroe was outshot 18-10, but the amount of quality chances that North Brunswick had were few and far between.

“The whole first half was not good for us, but in the second half we started figuring it all out and we had a couple opportunities,” Monroe head coach Steve MacKenzie said. “Luigi didn’t have his best game, but this is what he’s been doing all season and we felt that if we kept pushing forward, we’d get an opportunity to score.”

Monroe thought it had the game’s first goal in the opening minutes of the second half, but the officials, who whistled offsides on the play, waived it off. From there, it was all Falcons, as they earned the game’s next two quality chances, though both were stifled by North Brunswick goalie Steven Szakas, who made four saves in the contest.

MacKenzie stressed that he was very happy for his players, who have been under immense pressure all season long.

“It’s awesome, for these guys, all season long it’s been tough,” MacKenzie said. “They’ve had to handle high expectations and we learned how to do it throughout the year. It’s rewarding for the players and I want them to taste what it’s like to go for a county championship.”

Monroe will match up with South Brunswick for the GMCT title Saturday in Woodbridge. The teams split their two meeting this season and Buffolino thinks he has the strategy to get his team their first county championship since 2008.

“We’ve got to go all-out, 80-plus minutes, and score some goals in the first half and put them away early,” he said.