TOMS RIVER - Seniors Cameron Geerinck and Mike Tapp, two of the handful of returning starters from Toms River South's NJSIAA South Jersey Group III sectional finalist a year ago, recall experiencing different feelings after losing to Ocean City in the championship game last season.

Now, however, they can agree on one thing: their Indians are more ready than ever to win their first sectional championship in six years.

Geerinck scored two goals to match the single-season school record for goal-scoring and Tapp helped orchestrate the team's 10th shutout of the season as second-seeded Toms River South trounced Class A South division rival and No. 3 Lacey, 4-0, to advance to a second straight sectional final.

The Indians have waited a year to get another crack at a sectional championship and the same team that ended the dream last year will stand in their way on Friday. No. 5 Ocean City - fresh off a win at top-seeded Delsea - will visit Toms River South in the South Jersey Group III final for the second straight year.

"Walking off that field at the end of last year was an empty feeling because I thought we missed our chance to win a championship," Geerinck said. "It's so hard to get this far and you never know how many chances you're going to get. To be going back is almost a surreal feeling and it's one I think we all appreciate."

Although Toms River South returned only five starters from last year's team, Tapp had a more defiantly confident view of the loss last season.

"There was no doubt in mind we'd get back," Tapp said. "As soon as the game ended, I thought to myself, 'We are getting back here next year and we're winning it.' It's definitely been a challenge, but I knew we had as much, if not more talent coming up to the varsity team and I really liked the feel of this team. It's a really close group and we're a team in every sense of the word."

With the two goals, Geerinck matches the single-season school record with 25 goals on the year. He is now tied with the late Dave Mitchell, an Indians standout and former head coach at Toms River North.

"He knew he was going to have to be the man for us by scoring goals and he's done that," Toms River South coach Ron Laycock said. "He's very opportunistic, and that's what makes great forwards great forwards. It takes a certain personality to score goals and he has it, he has that composure."

"Laycock didn't tell me what the record was so I had no idea what I was shooting for," Geerinck said. "I just tried to get us a goal when I could and after the second one, I heard them announce it. It's pretty great."

Geerinck opened the scoring by heading in a long throw-in by Chris Kluxten that put Toms River South on top 1-0, a lead the Indians took to the half. With that goal, Geerinck his streak to 10 straight games with a goal scored, including all seven of Toms River South's postseason games.

Toms River South blew open the game in the 63rd on a goal by Francesco LoScrudato, the first of three goals by the Indians in the span of 5:36. Dylan Parks chipped the ball over the defense and the backspin on the pass allowed LoScrudato to get to the ball before goalkeeper Bobby Considine, who LoScrudato spun around before knocking the ball into an empty net.

Parks then added a goal of his own on a counter attack, with Tyler Egnatuk sliding a pass to Parks, who popped a shot over Considine and in. Geerinck capped the scoring and matched the school record 1:15 later on another breakaway in which he walked the ball into the goal.

"We came in wanting to possess the ball, but we knew that there would be opportunities to counter and run at them with numbers," Geerinck said.

Tapp and Kluxten were part of a back four helped junior goalkeeper Dom Pizzi earn shutout No. 10 on the season, his first on the job as a starter. Pizzi deflected a header off the crossbar in the 58th minute to keep the game 1-0 before his team erupted for three more goals.

"He didn't play a single minute in goal last year because of the way the schedule ended up working out, so even though we felt pretty good about him coming back, he didn't have any varsity time," Laycock said. "He looked pretty good for us in the summer time and he has just become more and more confident as the season has progressed."

Lacey's chances took a hit in the 54th minute, when top scorer Robert Biele was helped off the field with a left ankle injury that kept him out until after Toms River South put a second goal on the board. Upon returning, Biele was visibly hobbling while trying to help his team score an equalizer.

Biele finished his senior season with 28 goals, which was also a single-season school record, and was the focus of Toms River South's defense. Biele scored a goal in both regular season meetings against the Indians.

"We knew their offense was going to go through Biele and (senior forward) Hunter Dorsey from playing them twice already, so it wasn't a secret or anything," Tapp said. "We did try to be careful about creeping up and letting those guys get behind us, but we came out with the same game plan in the back that we always do."

Since losing to Lacey at home on Sept. 25, Toms River South has gone 14-1 with its lone loss coming to Christian Brothers Academy in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals by a score of 2-1. Even in defeat, the Indians took plenty from that game, including a notion that a change in formation could do some good.

After facing CBA's five-man midfield, Toms River South's players floated the idea of playing with five in the midfield and Laycock liked what he saw when he took a look at the 4-5-1 formation in the final practice before the Indians' state tournament opener against Cumberland.

"Some of our defenders were saying after that CBA game that it was tough to defend because you don't know which guy is making the run and they all have the speed that if you're a step slow recognizing it, it can burn you," Laycock said. "I had toyed with the idea at times this season because I thought we had the personnel to do it.

"When we got to practice that following Monday, we played 11 on each side with five guys in the midfield and it looked great, so we said, 'Let's try it.' We played an inferior team in the first game, but it worked well against Central and I thought it was a major factor today."

Toms River South last won a sectional title in 2009, when the Indians scored the game-winning goal in the 78th minute or later in four of its six wins to capture the overall Group IV championship.

 

Box Score

Toms River South 4, Lacey 0

1 2 F
Lacey (17-6) 0 0 0
Toms River South (19-3) 1 3 4

Goals (Assists): (TRS) Cameron Geerinck (Chris Kluxten) 17’, Francesco LoScrudato (Dylan Parks) 63’, Dylan Parks (Tyler Egnatuk) 67’, Cameron Geerinck (Dylan Dannelson) 68’
Shots: Toms River South, 9-3
Saves: (W) Bobby Considine 1; (TRS) Dom Pizzi 1