TOMS RIVER - Holmdel senior Hunter Chapman said that he thinks last year's Hornets boys soccer team was more talented than this year's version, and yet the junior forward believes this year's group - although much younger and unproven - has a chance to do things last year's team failed to do.

Holmdel - the No. 8 team in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10 - already took care of one of the items on last year's list of shortcomings Tuesday by opening the season with a win over No. 9 Toms River South, 3-0.

"We're more together this year and it feels like everyone is on the same page right from the start," Chapman said. "We were able to get an early lead and even though (Toms River South) put the pressure on is, we didn't panic and we started playing well together in the second half."

Senior midfielder Nick Chrystal and Holmdel got their season started on the right foot by beating Toms River South, 3-0, on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Holmdel opened the 2014 season with a 2-1 home loss to the Indians and went on to fall short of winning a Shore Conference Class A Central division title for the first time since 2009.

"We wanted revenge because they beat us on our own field last year," Chapman said. "It felt good to get that revenge."

Chapman scored the first Holmdel goal 3:46 into the match on a header off a long throw-in by senior outside back Jesse Dopelt and later assisted the Hornets' second goal of the game, a 12-yard strike from senior Sean Gross in the 55th minute.

After developing a nose for the goal and scoring five goals as a sophomore in 2014, Chapman picked up Tuesday where he left off last year. On Dopelt's throw to the near post, Chapman flicked a header to the far right side netting to open the scoring.

"I have to play with energy for the entire game and when I see a chance to score, I have to make the most of it," Chapman said.

He later took a through-ball from freshman Joe Arena and sent it over to Gross on the right side. The senior midfielder lined up a shot from the right angle and hit it inside the near right post to the upper corner of the goal for a 2-0 Holmdel lead.

The Hornets capped the scoring three minutes later when junior Leo Nobrega walked in a goal after beating Toms River South junior goalkeeper to a cross from senior Mike Carannante.

Senior goalkeeper Tyler Marchiano earned the shutout by saving five shots and helping Holmdel overcome a 12-9 advantage in shots for Toms River South. After going up early, Holmdel surrendered six unanswered shots by the Indians, who controlled possession during the final 20 minutes of the first half.

"I like the energy our guys show every day," Marchiano said. "We have a lot of young guys who have played together and bring a lot of emotion and energy and that definitely helped us today."

Holmdel employed a 3-5-2 formation in front of Marchiano, a different look from the traditional stopper-sweeper formation coach John Nacarlo has used in recent years. Sophomore Justin McStay made his first start at center back with Dopelt and senior Dante Marino on either side.

Holmdel junior Hunter Chapman scored a goal and assisted another to help lead the Hornets to a win over Toms River South to open the season. (Photo by Matt Manley)

"The new formation works well with the players we have," Marchiano said. "With four defenders last year, we sometimes had trouble getting the ball out of the back and controlling it in the middle. With an extra midfielder, we've been able to keep possession a little longer and get our attack set up with an extra player. Coach is trusting our defense and he is trusting me to make sure we stay organized and so far it's been working out."

Holmdel will move on to division play and open up its Class A Central schedule with defending division champion Matawan on the road on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. If Tuesday represented one act of revenge, the Hornets are hoping to exact some more on Thursday.

"We got off to a slow start and we weren't able to win the division, which we were disappointed about," Chapman said. "We want to come back this year and win it."

 

Box Score

Holmdel 3, Toms River South 0

1

2

F

Holmdel (1-0)

1

2

3

Toms River South (0-1)

0

0

0

Goals (Assists): (H): Hunter Chapman (Jesse Dopelt) 4’, Sean Gross (Hunter Chapman) 55’, Leo Nobrega (Mike Carannante) 58’
Shots: Toms River South, 12-9
Saves: (H) Tyler Marchiano 5; (TRS) Dom Pizzi 3