Photo Gallery by Larry Murphy

WALL TOWNSHIP – The danger of facing a great scorer is that for 79 minutes and 59 seconds of an 80-minute high school soccer game, a defense can do everything right against him and still get beat on one faulty step in that one other second.

For a four-game series spanning almost 340 full minutes this season, the Wall boys soccer team shut down one of the Shore Conference’s most prolific goal-scorers. Thanks to one misstep in the early stages of Wall’s opening round game in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III playoffs, Long Branch senior striker Guilherme DeNovaes will forget about the 340 minutes of frustration against his team’s division rival.

DeNovaes slipped through the back of the Wall formation and finished his 22nd goal of the season – his first against Wall – in the third minute to give No. 12 seed Long Branch an early edge en route to a 1-0 win over the fourth-seeded Crimson Knights.

Long Branch will now play defending champion and No. 4 seed Allentown on the road in the sectional quarterfinals after the Redbirds beat Jackson Liberty, 5-0, on Monday.

Long Branch senior Guilherme DeNovaes reacts after scoring the game's lone goal in the Green Wave's win over Wall on Monday. (Photo by Larry Murphy)

“Wall is a great team and we knew in order to beat them, we needed to put one in first,” DeNovaes said. “We knew if we put one in first, we would put the pressure on them. Once we put one in, our midfield was able to dominate the game and we just held on.”

Long Branch had given up first-half goals in each of the first three meetings with Wall this season, the most recent of which was a 1-1 draw in the Shore Conference Tournament that ended with Wall winning a round of penalty kicks. Long Branch finally opened the scoring agains the Crimson Knights on Monday just 2:39  into play, starting with a failed clearance.

Gregory Borba blocked the attempted clearance and played the ball past the defense to DeNovaes in the middle of the field. The senior outran the last defender and slipped the ball past goalkeeper Jack Wishart for the lone goal of the match.

“Against a team like this, opportunities don’t come very often,” DeNovaes said. “They are very organized in the back, so when you get a chance to make something happen, you can’t miss because it might be the only chance you get. I wasn’t able to score against them this year, but I finally got a chance today and I was able to put it in.”

Long Branch goalkeeper Kevin Solano saved four shots, including a potential own goal that he punched over the crossbar before it could tuck into the upper right corner of the goal in the 53rd minute.

Wall also created its own chances to tie the game. A minute prior to the near own goal, Crimson Knights senior Brendan Barcas hammered a shot off the bottom of the crossbar that bounced straight down but did not clear the goal-line. In the 58th minute, Barcas again had a chance to score and did knock the ball into the back of the net, but not until after he was whistled for a handball.

While dodging those three close calls, Long Branch managed the game with its midfield. The Green Wave played with only DeNovaes up top and let seniors Sam Hernandez and Manny Camacho and freshman Juan Carlos Merino run the midfield.

“We just tried to hold possession today and send balls to Guilherme when we had a chance,” Hernandez said. “We man marked in the middle and that helped counter their size because then we weren’t going to lose them at any point.”

The loss is the second straight for Wall to end its season and it comes just two days after the Crimson Knights lost to Freehold Township, 2-1, in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game. Wall lost in the Central Jersey Group III final to Allentown last season and followed it up by advancing to its first SCT Final since 1998 and winning its first division title since 2010. In trying to top their state playoff run from a year ago, the Crimson Knights drew a dangerous Long Branch team that Wall had played three times prior this season, going 2-0-1 with a shootout win in the lone tie.

“When you play three games in (five) days at that high level and then you have to turn around in a day and play a team like (Long Branch), yeah, it’s difficult,” Wall coach Garry Linstra said. “But you want to get to the Shore Conference final and have that opportunity and this is just the price you pay. It’s not the ideal situation, but that’s what life is: whatever life gives you, you’ve got to play with it and we didn’t do our job today.”

“Wall is a great, great team,” Long Branch coach Adrian Castro said. “This is a huge win for the program and hopefully this is the beginning of a nice run.”

“I think it will help us to play teams that don’t know us,” DeNovaes said. “We had to play Wall four times and it just got tougher and tougher. Now, I think we can just go play our game and not worry about what the other team is doing.”


Box Score

Long Branch 1, Wall 0




Long Branch (11-6-2)




Wall (14-5-2)




Goals (Assists): DeNovaes (Borba) 3’
Shots: Tied, 7-7
Saves: (LB) Solano 4; (W) Wishart