WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – Jackson Memorial traveled south in search of its first state title in two decades on Thursday afternoon, but instead, it was the reigning kings of South Jersey boys soccer that added another jewel to their crown.

Washington Township scored a pair of first-half goals and survived a relentless wave by the Jaguars in the second half to take a 2-1 victory and claim their fifth straight NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 championship.

Arturo Serano gave the Minutemen (23-1) the lead when he converted a penalty kick in the 17th minute. Washington Township’s lead grew to 2-0 when Jake Logar headed in a serve from Chad Yates in the 27th minutes. Jackson got on the board in the 58th minute when Ben Schnaak headed in a corner kick from Ben Patti but the Jaguars (15-3-1) could not find the equalizer.

Washington Township did not generate many scoring chances outside of its two goals in the first half but did possess the ball for most of the first 40 minutes. Jackson got untracked in the second half and continued to apply pressure but they were unable to rally all the way back from a two-goal deficit.

“They didn’t have many goal-scoring opportunities,” said Jackson Memorial head coach Steve Bado. “The ref made a 50/50 judgment call on a penalty kick that changed the momentum of the game. Then the second goal came on an illegal screen – it’s obvious on film – so when things like that happen it’s hard to bounce back.”

“If you look at the flow of the game we dominated the second half, but it’s hard to break questionable calls.”

Washington Township applied pressure from the onset and got their opportunity when Jackson was called for a foul in the box. Serano converted with a shot low and inside the left post.

Just over 10 minutes later Washington Township had possession off a restart just inside midfield. Yates sent a ball toward the goal where Logar found it through a crowd and headed it home to give the Minutemen a two-goal cushion.

Jackson’s best chance to that point came a few minutes later when Dan Russo had a great look at the goal and had a shot ticketed for the back of the net before Washington Township’s Justin Bautista reached out with his leg to deflect it away.

After some sustained pressure to begin the second half, the Jaguars finally broke through in the 58th minute. Off Patti’s corner kick, Schnaak leaped above the Washington Township defense and delivered an emphatic header that zipped to the back of the net just under the crossbar.

Jackson continued to apply pressure but Washington Township had enough answers down the stretch to hold the lead and win their fifth championship in a row.

“I’m proud of my kids; we fought through it and it takes nothing away from our season,” Bado said. “We’re A South champions two years in a row, made it to the Shore Conference semifinals and the finals of a state section. We just fell short.”

 

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