OCEAN TOWNSHIP – During the 2013 season, the Wall boys soccer team went 14-3-6, reached the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals by beating Christian Brothers Academy on the road and took the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship game to overtime at top-seeded Allentown.

Despite the accomplishments, the Crimson Knights closed the book on 2013 without a championship of any kind, and Friday’s de facto Shore Conference Class B North championship game at rival Ocean was the first chance for the returning players from last year to right that wrong.

Wall senior Brendan Barcas heads a ball over Ocean junior Wadneson Alexis during Wall's 3-0 win over the Spartans on Friday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Junior Connor Fry scored two goals while the Wall defense and senior goalkeeper Jack Wishart shut down a dangerous Spartans attack to spark a 3-0 Crimson Knights win that gives Wall its first division championship since 2010.

“We’ve played every game like it’s the most important game,” senior center midfielder Brendan Barcas said. “That’s a big reason why we came here today in a position to win the division for the first time in (four) years. After last year, we definitely wanted to put ourselves in position to play games like this, and I think the way we’ve played to get to this point prepared us to play well today, and it’s prepared us to play in the postseason.”

Playing without second-leading scorer Zach Hetzel – who sat out with a back injury, according to Wall coach Garry Linstra – Wall turned to Fry for its scoring punch. The junior scored the first and last goals of the game to up his season total to five, passing Hetzel and senior Joe Tashjy for second on the team in the process.

Fry opened up the scoring in the 20th minute by tapping the ball past freshman goalkeeper Tom Gleason after sophomore Dan Frisch-Harmon sent a long pass into the box. With Wall leading 2-0, Fry scored again in the 60th when he one-time a 40-yard pass from Zach Aylett out of the air and into the goal from inside the six-yard box.

“With Hetzel out, I knew I just had to look to get shots off when I had the chance,” Fry said. “That’s what our coaches said we needed to try to do today, and I got a couple of good chances near the goal.”

Barcas added his team-leading 11th goal of the season to push the Wall lead to 2-0 eight minutes into the second half. Barcas settled a cross from Gerardo Medina and knocked it in with his left foot from inside the six-yard box after Medina beat a host of defenders to the end-line.

Ocean played the majority of the game without junior starting goalkeeper Yanni Kavarakas, who aggravated a right ankle injury that he suffered over the weekend and caused him to miss the team’s win over Long Branch on Monday. Gleason came on in the seventh minute after Kavarakas spent nearly 10 minutes on the ground while the game was stopped.

“I thought we actually played well before their keeper got hurt,” Linstra said. “After he went out, we were able to get the goal, but for the most part, we were on our heels a little more than we wanted to be. I think that’s just a product of playing this team because you have to constantly keep tabs on (Wadneson Alexis) and (Marlhens Nasanes).”

While the Crimson Knights did not allow a goal to the Spartans, Ocean manufactured 10 shots, six of which were on net. Wishart controlled the box and saved those six shots on goal, while also getting an assist from Tashjy, who headed the ball off the line on a corner kick that bent around Wishart with Wall already leading 3-0.

“There’s definitely been a lot more communication in the back lately and a lot more focus on defending by all of our guys,” Wishart said. “I know I have to be able to control my box, and I’m always communicating with the guys back there. Sometimes I have to bail us out and other times, those guys bail me out like Tashjy today with that header. He’s a defensive center midfielder for us and he’s been doing the job for us up top, but when we needed him back to protect the net, he stepped up big.”

After a 3-2 loss to Red Bank on Oct. 2 – the second loss of the season to its B North rival – Wall was 7-3-1 and had allowed at least three goals in all three non-wins and pitched shutouts in six of the seven wins. Since that loss to Red Bank, Wall is 4-0 and has not allowed a goal against the likes of Long Branch, Red Bank Catholic, Neptune and Ocean. While the first three shutouts were a sign of progress for a team refocused on defense, Friday was an affirmation of that focus. Prior to Friday, Ocean had scored 25 goals in 11 games since the return of junior Wadneson Alexis from a knee injury and Friday marked only the second time since Alexis’ return that Ocean failed to score a goal.

“Against a team like this, you just have to be ready at all times,” Wishart said. “They have guys that will shoot it from anywhere, and it’s not just the forwards, either. Their backs sent some balls at me today that were on net, and when you’re up against a team like that, you just have to be aware at all times.”

“We said before the game that we liked how we’ve been playing these last few games, and today we were going to find out if it was for real,” Linstra said. “I thought the guys embraced the challenge and really executed our plan. If they continue to play like they did today, I think we’ll be in good shape once the tournaments start.”

 

Box Score

Wall 3, Ocean 0

1

2

F

Wall (11-3-1, 9-2-1)

1

2

3

Ocean (8-6-1, 8-3-1)

0

0

0

Goals (Assists): (W) Fry (Frisch-Harmon) 20’, B. Barcas (Medina) 48’, Fry (Aylett) 60’
Saves: (W) Wishart 6; (O) Kavarakas 0, Gleason 1
Shots: Ocean, 10-9