by Anthony Mauro Jr.
HOLMDEL – The only score of the game came from Holmdel’s Nick King as the Hornets moved onto the semi-finals of the NJSIAA boys soccer tournament last Friday.
The first half of the matchup between Holmdel (3) and Red Bank Regional (6) was closely contested. Holmdel opened the gates on the attack for the majority of the first five minutes of the game. RBR would proceed to take their turn in playing keep away for another five minutes before the battle for possession would begin to level out.
The Hornet’s Sean O’Neill had a couple of scoring chances off rebounds from a breakaway at the 23:49 mark but he came up empty. Holmdel had another missed opportunity with 17:41 left to play in the half on a cross ball. Shortly after, they would miss a header at 16:39.
RBR would see a scoring opportunity at the 15:04 mark off a corner kick, but it was denied by Holmdel’s goalie Mitchell Walier. The Hornets would fire back with another chance of their own just minutes later off a penalty but failed to find the back of the net.
A Holmdel goal with 12:00 to go in the half caused the home crowd to erupt, but it was whistled no-good because of an offside call. RBR would go on the offensive at the 3:00 mark but were empty handed. Holmdel’s Zach Bond would have his breakaway shot denied by the Bucs’ goalie with only 30 seconds remaining in the half.
“We just wanted to make sure we controlled the middle of the field a little bit better than we’ve been doing in the past, so we moved Jack Flannagan as a defensive man and I thought he did a good job for us. We just wanted to play our game. We played them [RBR] twice during the season and we beat them so we knew they were going to come after us, but we just wanted to possess and get our scoring opportunities that way,” said Holmdel’s head coach John Nacarlo.
The two teams would go into the half tied 0-0, and the second half would bring more closely contested play.
However, the 37:48 mark would prove to be pivotal as Holmdel’s Nick King chipped in a goal right over the opposing goalie’s head off an assist from Sean O’Neill.
The Hornets got another scoring chance but missed off a corner kick with 29:36 left to play. They maintained possession of the ball for the majority of the next five minutes.
“To be honest with you, I thought that game could have easily been 3 or 4 to nothing,” said Nacarlo. “Their keeper made some great saves on Zach. We were able to free him up a few times, spread out their defense, and I thought we played very well. We needed to get our confidence back up and have a game like that.”
RBR would go back on the offensive at 19:06 and would have several missed opportunities with 17:44 left in regulation. The game would continue to be a back and forth battle for the next 10 minutes, when RBR had yet another scoring chance that was saved by Walier at 7:19.
While the Bucs pressed hard to get something to find the back of the net and force overtime, they ultimately came up empty as Holmdel’s tough defense and possession of the ball would lead them to a 1-0 victory.
“At this point in the season it’s a long season, we’re going to play our game when we go to play Delaware Valley and just look to get it done,” said Nacarlo.
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