Boys Soccer – Point Boro Stomps Lakewood to Keep B South Title Hopes Alive
POINT PLEASANT BORO - At one point this season, the Point Pleasant Boro boys soccer team went more than five hours of game time without scoring a goal and amid that drought was shutout loss at the hands of Lakewood.
Thursday, the Panthers - now far removed from their offensive woes - again faced Lakewood looking to extend a much more welcomed streak and extended it with their best offensive performance of the season.
Five different Point Boro players scored a goal between the 33rd and 58th minutes and the Panthers rolled to a 5-0 win over the Piners, improving to 5-0-3 over their last eight games while staying alive in the Shore Conference Class B South title race.
It took nearly 33 minutes for Point Boro to break onto the scoreboard, but once the ball found the back of the net, the seal was broken. The scoring wave began with senior Jake Brzyski tracking the ball to the left corner and crossing it back to the middle. It deflected off a Lakewood defender and right to the feet of junior Alex Herrman, who ripped a far-post shot into the goal from 12 yards out.
"It's like a baseball player in a slump," Point Boro coach Pete Casalino said of his team's early-season scoring problems. "Until you get that first hit, it feels like the slump is going to last forever.
"We honestly didn't know when that first goal was going to come - we made some adjustments, kept tweaking things until we found something that seemed like it was going to work for us. All the credit goes to the kids, because a lot of teams get down, but they never did. They battled and kept us in games even when goals were hard to come by."
Point Boro carried the momentum into the second half and the team's second goal also started with Brzyski. The senior beat his man up the left flank all the way to the endline and crossed it on the ground. Senior Leo Schnappauf got the ball on the far right post and tapped it in to make it 2-0 in the 45th minute.
Sophomore and Christian D'Amato scored the next two Point Boro goals within 57 seconds of one another. Lakewood goalkeeper Moises Galvan came off his line to stop a breakaway by Schnappauf, but the ball bounced out to D'Amato, who cracked a 45-yard shot into the middle of the goal with Galvan out of position.
Less than a minute later, Brzyski pounced on an errant clearance in the Lakewood third and scored to the far left corner of the goal in the 51st minute.
Senior Matt Moran headed in the final goal in the 58th on a corner kick by Ryan Schmitt.
Prior to Herrman's goal, Point Boro was battling a 4-3 shot deficit and created just one dangerous chance around the goal while Lakewood controlled the ball in the midfield. The tide began to turn in the second half of the first half.
"The first fifteen minutes or so, we were pretty flat," Casalino said. "Then, we started to put a little more pressure off the ball, forcing Lakewood to have to take an extra touch rather than getting into the habit of letting people knock the ball around.
"I also have to give a lot of credit to the three guys I put in the game: Jacob Rappaport, Tyler Havlik and Jarod Brzyski. They don't get a lot of minutes in a lot of games, but they went in and gave us a lot of energy and even when they came out, I think they raised the energy level of the rest of the team and we kept it there."
Point Boro still needs plenty of help in order to win a share of the Class B South title for the sixth consecutive season. The Panthers will have to win their final three divisional games against Donovan Catholic, Manchester and Barnegat and will also need Pinelands go no better than 1-2 or 0-1-2 over its final three games. The Wildcats play Jackson Liberty, Barnegat and Lacey to close out their divisional schedule.
Regardless of whether or not Point Boro can claim a share of the B South title, the Panthers will enter the final week of the season playing its best soccer of the season, which is nothing new for the program. Point Boro has authored a winning streak of at least nine games in each of the last three seasons, winning 15 straight at one point last year and 14 in 2014.
The Panthers will also hope to get healthier as the postseason approaches. Point Boro picked up a huge 2-0 win over Pinelands on Saturday, but lost standout junior midfielder Liam Kirinovic to an ankle injury in the game. He has not played at all this week and is not likely to return until the start of the Shore Conference Tournament on Oct. 16. Point Boro has also played without his brother, senior Jake Kirinovic, for the entire season due to a back injury.
"It's about continuing to apply pressure all over the field and taking advantage of the opportunities that creates," Casalino said. "Without guys like Liam and Jacob, we don't create as many chances with possession as we would if they were here, so we have to find other ways."
Point Boro 5, Lakewood 0
|Lakewood (7-5, 6-5)||0||0||0|
|Point Boro (7-2-3, 6-2-3)||1||4||5|
Goals (Assists): (PB) Alex Herrman (Jake Brzyski) 33', Leo Schnappauf (Jake Brzyski) 45', Christian D'Amato 50', Jake Brzyski 51', Matt Moran (Ryan Schmitt) 58'
Shots: Point Boro, 14-8
Saves: (L) Moises Galvan 7; (PB) Steve Redler 3