TOMS RIVER – After the first 140 minutes of its 2014 season, the Toms River North boys soccer team had every reason to feel deflated as the goals allowed kept piling up and the goals scored refused to come.

On Tuesday night, the Mariners demonstrated how quickly – and early – a season can change its course with a little bit of hard work.

After his team surged back to tie Wall – the No. 2 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 – senior defender Mike Karpinsky headed in a long free kick by Kyle Burke for the game-winning goal in the 77th minute and the Mariners rallied from a two-goal deficit over the final 17 minutes to stun the Crimson Knights in a 4-3 victory.

Toms River North senior Liam McDonnell battles Wall junior Gerardo Medina for the ball Tuesday night. McDonnell scored the first of four Toms River North goals. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Toms River North faced two different two-goal deficits against a Crimson Knights team that allowed 21 goals in 23 games last season and had not allowed four goals in a game since Sept. 29, 2012 against eventual Shore Conference Tournament champion Ocean. The early deficit also came on the heels of a 4-0, opening-day loss to Kearny on Saturday.

“We kept telling ourselves that we had to win this game because it was home and because we got off to such a bad start in our first game,” Karpinsky said. “We knew we could come back because we had to. We weren’t going to give up.”

Trailing 3-1, Toms River North senior Ryan Cheslock began the comeback by beating the Wall defense to the left side of the 18-yard box and ripping a right-footed shot off of Wall goalkeeper Jack Wishart and in to trim the Crimson Knights' lead to 3-2 with 16:04 left.

“It definitely pumped us up, because I think they (Wall) probably got a little comfortable after they got their third goal, and we knew we were going to keep playing,” Cheslock said. “We just wanted to get that one goal back because if we could get it back to one goal, they would be on their heels again.”

Toms River North needed only 35 more seconds to score the game-tying goal, a far-post header by Nick Hund on a free kick by Joey Hertgen from outside the 18-yard box on the right side.

“I saw the ball up in the air and I just said, ‘That’s a goal. Go get it,’” Hund said.

With the score tied at 3, junior Kyle Burke took a free kick from 50 yards out and lofted it over a crowd of players. Karpinsky rose above the crowd and flicked a header just over the reach of Wishart to break the tie and give Toms River North its first lead.

“Most teams are worried about Cheslock on those plays because he’s the tallest player on the field for us, so I just tried to get in behind him,” Karpinsky said. “I think the defenders were probably blocked off from him being there, and I was able to sneak behind them and get a clean chance at the ball.”

Senior midfielder Liam McDonnell scored Toms River North's first goal on a penalty kick in the 52nd minute to pull the Mariners within 2-1. McDonnell also drew the foul that led to the kick, a push at the top of the six-yard box.

Wall answered McDonnell's goal when senior Brendan Barcas took a pass from junior Connor Ray and tapped it into the far left corner of the frame in the 60th minute. Fry also scored Wall's first goal in the 30th minute off a rebound following a corner kick. Sophomore Dan Frisch-Harmon made it 2-0 with a shot from the left side of the 18-yard box to the far right corner of the net.

Toms River North’s win continues an early trend of out-of-division success for Class A South teams, who are a combined 7-2-1 and 5-1-1 against Monmouth County teams. In addition to Wall, those wins include No. 5 Holmdel, Ocean, Colts Neck and Middletown North.

“We played a really tough preseason schedule, and the first two games have been against top competition,” Cheslock said. “We know we’re ready for anything because we’ve already seen some of the best competition, and we know what it takes to play with them. This is a huge win for us against a team that thought they were the best in the Shore. Tonight, we proved we can beat a top team and that’s going to motivate us through the rest of the year.”

 

Box Score

Toms River North 4, Wall 3

1

2

F

Wall (0-1-0)

1

2

3

Toms River North (1-1-0)

0

4

4

Goals (Assists): (W) Fry (Tashjy) 30’, Frisch-Harmon (Medina) 45’, B. Barcas (Fry) 60’; (TRN) McDonnell (PK) 52’, Cheslock 64’, Hund (Hertgen) 65’, Karpinsky (Burke) 77’
Shots: Wall, 11-7
Saves: (W) Wishart 1; (TRN) Brannagan 5