NJSIAA Group II Championship

At Kean University

Holmdel (21-1-1) vs. Dover (21-2-1)

The Holmdel boys soccer team is coming off, arguably, its biggest win in program history and that includes is 2010 Group III championship victory. Defeating Delran - the No. 5 team in the state at the time - puts the Hornets in position to finish higher in the state rankings than ever before and guaranteed a No. 1 finish in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 for the first time ever, if that wasn't already a lock.

With that in mind, the Hornets still have unfinished business, which should seem obvious to any team that is still 80 minutes from winning a championship game. The Delran win was not the championship game and the Holmdel players will have to focus on a Dover side that, while not a big name like Delran, has a pretty impressive body of work. The Tigers' only two losses this year were to the two Non-Public champions - Non-Public B champion Morris Catholic and the No. 1 team in the state, Delbarton.

If Dover's resume isn't enough to catch Holmdel's attention, the program's history in state final's should. Since winning the 2010 championship, Holmdel is 0-3 in Group II championship games, with one-sided losses to Newton and Bernards and a heartbreaking loss to Garfield two years ago. That loss in 2015 is still with a number of the players on Holmdel's current team, namely Justin McStay, Mikey Neff, Joe Arena and Torre Avitable - all of whom were starters on that Hornets team that was 2:30 away from a Group II title only to surrender two goals in the final 150 seconds.

To finish the job, Holmdel will have to do what Holmdel has done all year: focus on Holmdel. Dover boasts a balanced three-headed scoring monster in Sebastian Cortes (14 goals), Sebastian Roman (14) and Isaiah Flores (13) and has allowed only one goal in five tournament games, but the Hornets have been at their best when they impose their will on a game. They did it to Delran on Tuesday and took off late in the first half and will try to do it from the outset on Saturday morning.

With 80 minutes standing between Holmdel and a spot at the table with some of the best public school teams to ever play at the Shore, it is almost unthinkable that the Hornets would have a letdown. If they get beat, it will have to be because a brilliant performance by keeper David Hoyt and the Tigers and some bad luck. While luck has not been kind to Holmdel in this game since 2010, they shouldn't need too much of it on Saturday.

The Pick: Holmdel, 3-0

 

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