Barnegat Boys Soccer Aiming for More Consistency This Fall
In its first game of the season, the Barnegat boys soccer team ran out of gas in the second half and dropped a 2-1 contest to Manchester in the season opener on Sept. 8. The Bengals rebounded in their next contest two days later, exploding on offense to rout Keyport, 7-3.
Whether those first two games are indicative of what the season will look like remains a mystery, even to coach Mike McCullion, whose squad returned just five seniors from last year’s 4-11 squad.
But the good news is that Barnegat brought back nine players total, including juniors and sophomores who gained valuable varsity experience a season ago. And that experience should prove beneficial.
“We’ll definitely be a little bit stronger than last year,” McCullion said. “The seniors have been a positive group so far, and I’m hoping it stays that way. We’ll have a stronger midfield and a tighter defense. The question each game will be whether we’re going to finish.”
Leading the offensive punch up front will be junior Ryan Flaherty and sophomore Ricky Norman, while seniors Jake Tompkins and Nico Veneziano will be the anchors of the defensive unit.
“Flaherty’s coming off an injury but we’re hoping he’ll come through for us on offense with some consistency,” McCullion said. “Norman does a good job of possessing the ball and getting shots on goal, and he and Flaherty work really well together. So hopefully that will translate into more scoring this season.
“In the backfield, Tompkins and Veneziano are at the center and they’re going to need to be leaders back there. But they’re both capable players.”
Also back this season are seniors Avery Boyd, Ramone Davis and Sean Moran, as well as juniors Corey Branz and James Pari. A newcomer to the varsity team, junior Tyler Langan, is expected to see a majority of the time in front of the goal this fall.
The rest of the varsity squad includes juniors Orion Boyer and Chad Fraser, sophomores Scotty Doty, Dom Guiro and Kyle Smith, and freshmen Alexander Cermansky, Grady Edwards, Justin Gomez, Matthew White and Alex Zuniga.
“For us to be successful this season, we’re going to need players to step up in certain positions,” McCullion said. “We need our backfield to be tighter and better with their communication. And we need to finish when we have the ball deep in our opponents’ end of the field.”
Unfortunately, the Shore Conference Class B South division won’t yield too many easy games for the Bengals. Pinelands is expected to be tough this season, along with Donovan Catholic and Point Pleasant Borough. And with Lacey returning to B South after eight years in the A South division, Barnegat has its work cut out.
“Generally, I want more consistency from our guys,” McCullion said. “We need to do everything with more consistency to win games, and it starts with the seniors who lead this team.”