Boys Soccer – Jamie Martin Golden Goal Lifts Rumson Over Long Branch
LONG BRANCH - The Rumson-Fair Haven boys soccer team found itself in a number tight games last year in which they could not find a way to pull out a win, but the opening night throttling at the hands of Long Branch was not one of them.
In Friday's 2015 opener, also against Long Branch, Rumson found a way to win in dramatic fashion and got a measure of payback against a Green Wave team that gave them a rude awakening in last year's opener.
Senior Jamie Martin buried a left-footed strike off the far right post and in from the left perimeter of the 18-yard box with five seconds left in the first overtime period and the Bulldogs stunned Long Branch, 2-1.
"To be honest, I didn't see the clock," Martin said. "I got the ball on my favorite left foot and I just said, 'Why don't I have a rip? Maybe this will go in.' As it turned out, something good happened. I placed it right where I wanted it and I'm just glad I was able to celebrate with my teammates."
Long Branch - the No. 10 team in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10 - scored the equalizer in the 52nd minute when sophomore Vanacio Fernandes hit a 30-yard shot from the left angle that hopped into the far right corner for his first career varsity goal. Just seconds earlier, Rumson goalkeeper Markar Krikorian saved a one-on-one chance for Long Branch sophomore Juan Carlos Merino from eight yards out on the right side.
Long Branch later came close to tying the game on a 25-yard rocket off the left foot of sophomore Hernan Acevedo, which glanced off the crossbar.
Rumson took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute, when junior Sam Sapnar buried a left-footed direct kick from 25 yards out on the right side to the far left corner.
Long Branch controlled first-half possession despite giving up the direct-kick goal as Rumson tried to play long passes over the top of the defense with a considerable wind at the its back. During the second half and overtime, the Bulldogs ran a more deliberate attack that began to yield scoring opportunities late in regulation and into overtime.
"We are both attacking teams, and they just happened to have more chances early on," Gould said. "They are very dangerous and we wanted to make sure we knew our responsibilities on defense and at halftime, we talked about how we wanted to open things up a little bit and start trying to attack them a little bit more. We had chances to put it away earlier, but we didn't capitalize. Fortunately Jamie got the ball where he could face the goal and hit a good shot."
Long Branch goalkeeper Kevin Solano made a sprawling save in the 88th minute, just two minutes before Martin beat him to the far post.
Long Branch blitzed Rumson on opening night of last season, 5-1, behind five goals by Guilherme De Novaes, who graduated in the spring. Last year's Bulldog team returned only three players from a 19-win team the previous year and the 5-1 loss in the opener set the tone for a 5-13-3 season.
Gould and his team are hopeful Friday's win sets a completely different course this year.
"I think losing the way we did last year was a shock to our guys and it could have had an affect on them," Gould said. "For the most part, we just couldn't really finish games last year, but losing like that is a tough way to start the year. This is much better."