VINELAND -- The Holmdel boys soccer team entered the season with a lot of unknowns but with a youthful group of players and raw talent. In the NJSIAA Group II semifinal matchup against Delran Tuesday night at St. Augustine, the Hornets put together their best ball of the season and punched their ticket to Saturday's Group II Championship contest with a 2-0 victory over Delran.

After Holmdel opened their season at 1-4-2, the Hornets - who ran out six underclassman as starters - started building their foundation for a successful season.  After an early exit in the Shore Conference Tournament in a 6-0 route at the hands of Toms River North, the Hornets had two avenues to choose from: one was to pack it in and call it a season and the other was to get back to the drawing board and come together as one.

"I honestly think the turning point of of our season was the 6-0 loss to Toms River North in the Shore Conference Tournament," Holmdel coach John Nacarlo said. "We changed our formation and some personnel and went younger it was something that I felt was important for us because we had to find a different way to play against better teams.”

Holmdel's keeper Tyler Marchiano comes up big on a corner against Delran (photo by Eric Braun)

On Tuesday night, Holmdel continued its stellar play of late and jumped on Delran early when Justin McStay scored in the opening minutes of the contest and then topped off the scoring in the 50th minute to give the Hornets their ticket back to the NJSIAA Group II Championship game. With the win the Hornets will make their fourth appearance in the finals in the past six seasons and will be looking to join the 2010 team as state champions.

Holmdel's Justin McStay breaks loose downfield against Delran (photo by Eric Braun)

Delran looked to be stealing the momentum late in the first half and early second half but the young Hornets defense stood tall and behind keeper Tyler Marchiano and Holmdel's confidence never wavered. The Hornets regrouped as they have the second half of the season and slowed down the Delran attackers and limited their shots on Marchiano in the second half.

"Our defense has really stepped up late in the season," Nacarlo said. "We haven’t allowed a goal in the last four games and they are just playing well as a unit. Also, Tyler Marchiano, as a coach you can’t ask for a better keeper and leader the he has been this season."

Next up for Holmdel (13-6-5) is a date with Garfield (18-3-3) on Sunday, Nov. 22 at Kean University at 10 a.m. for the NJSIAA Group II Championship.

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