State Tournament Soccer

Southern Falls Short Against Lenape in Boys Soccer Tourney

Pinelands Boys, Girls Reach Quarterfinals
Oct 30, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy THAT’S MINE: Southern’s John Paul Prosperi (15) gets a head on the ball during the Rams’ 1-0, first-round loss to Lenape in the South Jersey Group IV tournament on Oct. 29.

The roller coaster ride that was this season quietly ended for the Southern Regional boys soccer team on Monday, Oct. 29.

“We had a lot of possession and a few decent opportunities to goal,” said head coach Guy Lockwood, whose Rams were bounced from the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV tournament following a 1-0 loss to Lenape in a first-round contest. “Their keeper pulled a couple out of the goal that could have gone in – he played very well. But overall, we weren’t creative enough, and the goal-scoring just dried up today.”

The fourth-seeded Rams (10-6-1) were solid in both halves against the 13th-seeded Indians (10-9) and carried the bulk of the play throughout the final 40 minutes. Unfortunately, one miscue with just over 28 minutes left in the first half was the difference.

After Southern worked the ball deep into Lenape’s half of the field, the Indians gained possession and quickly went on the counterattack, ultimately delivering the ball deep to the right corner of Southern’s defensive half. As Yianni Paxnos maneuvered around a Rams defender, he sent what appeared to be a cross into the goalkeeper’s box.

Southern keeper Braden Dugan knocked the ball to the turf with both hands, but Lenape forward Shom Dhar slipped behind the defense unmarked and put his left boot to the ball, sending it into the middle of the goal for a 1-0 lead. During the next 15 minutes, the Rams poured on the offensive pressure but barely managed to get a shot on goal and trailed at the half.

In the second half, Southern continued its push on offense, generating multiple chances to equalize. With just over 26 minutes to go in the game, senior Dylan Blauvelt fired a direct kick that was good enough to hit net, but opposing keeper Kyle Sherman made a lunging stop and didn’t allow a rebound for two Rams crashing the goal.

With about 10 minutes left, a scorcher from Connor Feeney about 20 yards away was stopped with a diving grab by Sherman, who minutes later made another save on a Blauvelt delivery from outside the penalty area. The Rams registered five shots on goal.

This season’s final record matched that of last year’s squad, which graduated a slew of seniors. The Rams will bring back most of its squad next year.

“We’ll return three of four on the back line, three of four in the midfield, and we’ll have back a little more than 60 percent of our scoring, so things look good for next year,” Lockwood said. “We’ve been steadily going up in the division, and we were competitive in every match this season. That was our goal three years ago when I started, to compete every day and have a chance to win most of our games.

“We’re absolutely moving in the right direction. The guys returning have had a lot of good minutes, and we have some talented freshmen coming into the program next year, so that should do well for us. We’re in good shape.”

Wildcats Advance
After Shootout Victory

The Pinelands Regional boys soccer team found a way to stay alive in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III tournament on Oct. 29, and it was as dramatic a result as you can get in high school soccer. Goalkeeper Gavin Harris made three consecutive saves during a penalty-kick shootout, while his teammates scored three times, and the Wildcats advanced to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory over Toms River South.

Following a scoreless 80 minutes of regulation, the sixth-seeded Wildcats and 11th-seeded Indians played a pair of 10-minute overtime periods, which also yielded nothing. With each team awarded five shots during the shootout, the Wildcats needed only three after Harris thwarted the third Indian to step to the 10-yard dot.

After John Hart and Dom Dos Santos scored on Pinelands’ first two penalty kicks, senior Frank Aguilar buried the third one inside the left post to set off the celebration.

Pinelands is scheduled to visit third-seeded Mainland on Nov. 1.

Bengals Fall to Delran
In South Jersey Group II, the Barnegat boys soccer team registered its only goal during the second half on Oct. 29, but the 15th-seeded Bengals (6-11) were dealt from the tournament following a 7-1 loss to second-seeded Delran.

The Bears (14-5-1) scored six times before halftime and added another goal early in the second half before Ricky Norman scored for the Bengals off an assist from Joel Roig. Barnegat goalkeeper Dominick Guiro recorded 11 saves.

Only One Local

Girls Team Moves On

The NJSIAA girls soccer sectional tournaments got underway Tuesday, Oct. 30, and one of the three local squads managed to advance to the quarterfinals.

In South Jersey Group II, sixth-seeded Pinelands (11-4-2) scored a thrilling 3-2 victory over 11th-seeded Cedar Creek. The Wildcats received a pair of goals from Sunni DiElmo, including the game-winner late in the second half, and another from Aileen Cahill. The game was scoreless with nine minutes to go.

With the victory, Pinelands will head to the sectional quarters to square off with third-seeded Haddon Heights, which knocked off 15th-seeded Barnegat, 2-0, to end the Bengals’ season at 5-12.

In the first round of South Jersey Group IV, seventh-seeded Southern (9-8) dropped a 1-0 decision to 10th-seeded Kingsway.

— David Biggy

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