Holmdel – For 90 minutes the Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs battled the defending champion Hornets for a share of the A Central Division title and although the Bulldogs outshot the Hornets 13-8, the only shot that mattered came off the foot of Zach Bond in the opening minute of the second overtime to secure a second straight division title for Holmdel.
Holmdel’s only loss this season came at the hands of the Bulldogs in a 1-0 game earlier in the year. RFH needed to win the game outright to gain a share of the division title; Holmdel would have secured the division in the event of a tie.
“The first half was definitely a battle. They’re definitely a more physical team,” Bond said. “In the second half we created more options for people and finally found the right players and started to mesh together.”
Bond believed his Hornet team had more stamina and desire heading into the overtime periods.
“We said this is for the division and we’re going to work as hard as we can and that’s what happened in the second overtime,” Bond said.
“Holmdel’s a great team,” said RFH head coach Jon Reynolds. “It was a helluva battle. I told the guys you could be very disappointed by the result because that was our chance at a share of the division, but they worked their socks off. They battled for all they’re worth. Be disappointed in the result but be very happy and proud of your effort.”
In the first half both teams created opportunities to score but were met with evenly matched defenders that squashed any quality attempts at the goal. The game started to get physical with approximately 11 minutes to go in the first.
At the 24:48 mark in the second half RFH’s Ben Alderoty picked up a yellow card after taking out Bond inside the 20.
One of Rumson’s best opportunities to score came with just over a minute to play in the first half when sophomore Pete Martin got the ball off a throw in and sent the ball toward the goal from the 18 that sailed just over the crossbar.
Holmdel came out strong in the second half and applied constant pressure on both ends of the field and displayed better ball control and better movement.
“I don’t know if we were nervous (in the first half) but we definitely didn’t play the way we’re capable of,” said Holmdel head coach John Nacarlo.
Holmdel had a chance to win the game with 8:16 remaining in the game on a free kick in front of Rumson’s goal, but the shot by Bond clanged off the left post.
Bond later put the game away in the second overtime when Holmdel gained possession of the ball in Rumson territory and Nick King fed Bond for the score and the title.
“Zach Bond, when he works hard we feed off of that and he worked hard and he earned it by getting that game winning goal,” Nacarlo said. “You want to get wins like this because they’re great wins.”