Southern Boys Soccer Team Nears 10-Win Mark for First Time in Decades
It’s been a long time since the Southern Regional boys soccer team has reached the 10-win mark in a season. Almost 30 years, in fact.
“It was 1989, my senior year. We had 14 wins,” said first-year coach Guy Lockwood, whose Rams inched closer to at least a 10-win season with a pair of victories last week. “It’s been awhile, but we’re closing in on 10.”
After scoring a 3-2 victory over Jackson Memorial on Oct. 5, Southern improved to 8-3 and had won three straight. Unfortunately, the last two contests haven’t gone according to plan and the Rams fell short of Brick, 3-1, on Oct. 6 and Central Regional, 2-0, on Oct. 10.
Still, with several winnable games during their next five regular season tilts, the Rams are in great position to end up with double-digit wins this season.
“This program is rising now,” Lockwood said. “But the more we win, the more the expectations grow. We’re not head and shoulders above the other teams in our division, but we want to keep pushing forward. Doubling the win total from last year is a nice accomplishment, but the season’s not over.”
Against the Golden Eagles – to whom the Rams lost, 3-2, on Sept. 20 – Southern mustered a half-dozen decent scoring chances but otherwise was flat in moving the ball forward. During the first half, Southern fell behind and didn’t have the offensive clout to recover.
Meanwhile, Central took advantage of its opportunities in the first half, scoring during the 11th and 21st minutes to take a two-goal lead into halftime. The Rams pressured the Golden Eagles during the second half, but managed just a few shots on goal.
“We had six good runs in the first half, but we didn’t finish on anything,” Lockwood said. “And in the second half, we controlled the ball better, but our angles were off and we went a lot of east-west instead of north-south. We weren’t driving to goal well. We didn’t have the vision to create better scoring chances today.”
In a somewhat evenly played game, Southern and Brick were tied, 1-1, at the half, but the Green Dragons capitalized on their opportunities in the second half, scoring twice for the win.
Against Jackson Memorial, Southern fell behind, 2-1, by halftime but equalized in the second half before junior Joe Kiernan buried the game-winner in overtime. Kiernan had two goals while Dylan Blauvelt scored the other, and goalkeeper Jay Boehler made four saves to help preserve the victory.
Earlier in the week, on Oct. 3, Kiernan scored both goals in Southern’s 2-1, overtime win over Lacey as well.
At 8-5, not only have the Rams returned to some prominence on the soccer pitch, but it also appears they will have a great chance at qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time in a while. And with the NJSIAA state-tourney cutoff coming up on Oct. 22, the Rams likely will get to play into November as well.
“Sitting where we are is great,” Lockwood said. “We’re hoping for a good spot in the state tournament, staring at qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament, and these guys should be proud of that. But now’s the time to turn it up a notch. Our expectations are not to lose games anymore.
“Today, we lost, and these guys are dejected, and that’s OK. It means they expect to win. Now the question is whether they’re going to use at as fuel for the tank or let it become a fire that burns us.”
— David Biggy