Boys Soccer – TR North Slams Holmdel Again, Reaches SCT Semis
TOMS RIVER – It is one thing for a team to have another team’s number and then there is what Toms River North has done to Holmdel in each of the last two Shore Conference Tournaments.
One year after defeating Holmdel by a six-goal margin in the first round of the SCT, the Mariners earned a trip to the conference quarterfinals by hammering the Hornets again, this time by a 5-0 count.
Senior Mitch Reed led the onslaught with a hat trick and junior Anthony McNulty added a pair of goals as well to account for the Mariners’ scoring. Senior Joe Swanton also played a substantial role in the win as four of the five Toms River North goals came off of his long throw-ins.
“I don’t think we expected to beat them by that much again, but we knew that we were bigger and any time we got a throw or a free kick, we wanted to be aggressive crashing the goal,” Reed said.
Reed opened the scoring in the 12th minute and McNulty followed with a second Mariners goal in the 19th – both on throw-ins by Swanton. Reed than knifed through the defense and scored in the 22nd minute to send Toms River North to the half up 3-0.
Swanton again created a goal in the 62nd with a throw into the box that was batted around before McNulty toe-poked it in. Reed poured on one final goal by knocking another Swanton throw from the left sideline into the goal to seal the hat trick and the win.
The Mariners defense also did its part by silencing Holmdel forwards Anthony Arena and Leo Nobrega, both of whom helped carry Holmdel through two rounds of the tournament as a No. 20 seed.
“(Arena) and Nogrega are beasts up top so we game-planned for those two,” Toms River North coach Joe Mahon said. “Then, I guess with the wind, Joe can throw the ball so we were able to get a couple goals out of that and it all took off from there.”
Tuesday’s game followed a similar script to the one that led Toms River North to a 6-0 win over Holmdel in last year’s SCT opening round. Holmdel rebounded to make a run to the NJSIAA Group II championship game.
“I was joking with (Holmdel head coach) John (Nacarlo) before the game and I told him, ‘You should be thanking me for beating you last year,’” Mahon said. “They fixed what they had to fix and made it to a state final. It’s a quality program and I think we’ve just been fortunate that there are certain parts of our game that they have trouble with and we’ve been opportunistic.”
Just like last year, Toms River North will advance to play defending champion Christian Brothers Academy in the next round. CBA handled Toms River North, 5-0, in last year’s round of 16 and now the Mariners will look to avoid a repeat of last year after just subjecting Holmdel to one on Tuesday. Toms River North and the top-seeded Colts will clash in the second game of the semifinal double-header at Central Regional High School.
“Coach said he has a game-plan for them, so we’ll see what it is in practice (Wednesday),” Reed said. “We play them on the turf and not their big field, so we’re going to try to pressure them and outwork them.”
Mahon is familiar with CBA having faced them three times in the Shore Conference Tournament as a head coach and once when he was an assistant for the Mariners in 2009. CBA won all four of those meetings.
“We played the 2011 team and that was some of the best soccer I’ve seen, and I know some people have compared this team to that team,” said Mahon, referencing the Colts’ 21-0 team from that year. “The year before, we actually outplayed them for a half before they pulled away in the second half, so I think I have an idea of what I want to do, but going out and doing it is different than thinking about it. The good thing is I have a bunch of kids who listen and are willing to do anything we tell them to do.”