By Brian Deakyne
RUMSON – Thirty seconds.
That’s the amount of time it took to decide the fate of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School boys’ soccer team’s season on Friday, Nov. 15, during the NJSIAA, Central Jersey, Group 2 sectional final.
In the 42nd minute, Rumson’s Matt Dell nearly broke a scoreless tie when his head ball from a corner rung off the crossbar. Half a minute later, Delran High School’s Thomas Taylor finished off a pass and slipped his shot into the net to give Delran the 1-0 win.
“That’s the reality,” first-year Rumson coach Will Gould said. “We had chances and we unfortunately could not find the back of the net. We just got unlucky and that game could have went either way, absolutely.”
Rumson applied pressure for most of the first half, but couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the net. In the second half, two Rumson goals were called back – the first on an offsides call and the second on an interference call against the Delran keeper.
“It’s frustrating when we get two goals taken away from us,” Gould said. “The offsides call, I don’t have a read on it and the ref called it, and the last one, they called a push on the goalie. There’s a scrum in the box and it’s a hard call, but the game could have went either way. I give Delran a lot of credit; they played their tails off. We threw everything we had at them early.”
Rumson used different formations throughout the game to try to produce a goal, but to no avail.
“For the first 20 minutes, we were knocking on the door and we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Gould said. “Then we switched back to a 4-4-2 at the 18-minute mark of the first half. We still played well, and in the second half, we went out, stayed in our 4-4-2, with about 15 minutes left, we shifted back into our 3-4-3, and we put everything we had at them. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
The loss ended a record-setting year for the Bulldogs. They were the first boys’ soccer team in school history to reach the Shore Conference Tournament Final and the first team in school history to play for a sectional championship.
“This team is extraordinary,” Gould said. “We set schools records all over the place. This is the best record we’ve ever had at the school, in the Shore Conference Tournament. We went further than any team in school history. In states we made it further than any team in school history; it sucks to come up short twice. But, the reality is that this team is one the best the school’s ever seen. It’s hard to walk away and not get a W, but we do have to keep our heads high and remember all the things we’ve accomplished this year.
“These kids are phenomenal players. This is probably the best team I’ve ever coached in my career, and that goes back to club and high school and everything. It’s a heartbreaker for these guys and with 17 seniors on the team, they know they’re not getting a second chance, so it’s hard to take the loss.”