By Liz Matakevich
Shore Sports Network Contributor

When Holmdel sophomore Hunter Chapman came up from the junior varsity team after injuries began to plague the offense, he never dreamed that he would follow in his older brother’s footsteps and help his team advance past Raritan to the semifinal round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II playoffs.

Holmdel sophomore Hunter Chapman lines up his shot that would put his team up 1-0 on Raritan in the Central Jersey Group II quarterfinals Friday. (Photo by Liz Matakevich)

Chapman came up huge for Holmdel with his first varsity goal to get top-seeded Hornets going on their way to a 2-0 win over the No. 8 seed Rockets.

“I was really happy with the way we came out and played,” Holmdel head coach John Nacarlo said. “I knew going in that it would be important to get a goal in the first half so I was happy.”In the 24th minute of the first half, Chapman cut the ball back and blasted a shot from inside the 18-yard box that curved perfectly into the bottom right corner of the net past diving Raritan goalkeeper Alex Pruckowski to put Holmdel up 1-0.

“It was a feeling that I’ve never felt before,” Chapman said. “When I saw that ball go in the net it was just a moment that I will never forget.”

Chapman's older brother Dylan was an All-Shore sweeper for Holmdel and helped lead the team to their past two Central Jersey Group II championships before graduating last year.

“I came up from Jayvee and played my first game about a week ago so I was both scared and excited,” Chapman said. “My brother left big shoes to fill and I want us to take it to where he did.”

The goal was huge for the Hornets, who hadn’t been able to put goals up on the board in regulation time in either of its past two games. Holmdel beat No. 16 Delaware Valley in penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie in the first round of the state playoffs and lost 2-0 to Rumson-Fair Haven in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals.

“We went two games without scoring and for us that’s a rarity,” Nacarlo said. “We’re missing two of our leading goal scorers and we’ve been having a problem finding the back of the net because of that.”

Those injured leading scorers included senior Jason Kyriacou, junior Gino D’Agostino, and freshman Brendan Wall.

Holmdel scored once more in the 79th minute on a shot from Rohan Ghandi to give the Hornets a 2-0 cushion.

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During the first half of the game, Holmdel’s defense shut down any chance of a Raritan goal, only allowing them to get one shot off.

After Chapman’s goal in the first half, Holmdel had three good opportunities to increase the lead, the first two coming in the 34th and 35th minutes. Chapman had another shot that went across the front of the net and out of bounds in the 34th and Santo Arena kept the threat alive, passing the ball off to Ghandi who shot the ball at Pruckowski, who made the save in the 35th.

The Hornets later missed a chance to increase the lead to 2-0 when Pruckowksi saved a penalty kick by Eric D'Aleo. Dante Marino was taken down in the box to set up the kick, but Pruckowski made the diving save to his left.

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Raritan had a sudden burst of energy in the second half to put on a series of offensive attacks on Holmdel’s net. The first came in the 53rd minute when Cassidy Tripolitis dribbled the ball up to net to get a shot off that hit the post. Justin McAree used his speed to come right back in the 54th, getting a strong shot on net but Holmdel goalkeeper Tyler Marchiano came up huge getting the diving save.

“There were a couple scary moments off the crosses from Raritan,” Nacarlo said. “Our defense pulled through and that's one of our strengths.”

With one minute left in the game, Ghandi let his teammates breathe easy when he took a pass from Connor Shields on a breakaway to the front of the net, putting the ball in the back of the net.

Holmdel took 13 shots on net to Raritan’s three, with Marchiano making three saves in net for Holmdel and Pruckowski making 10.

Holmdel advances to the semifinal round of Central Jersey Group II, where the Hornets will play Delran, 3-2 winners over Point Boro.


Box Score

Holmdel 2, Raritan 0

1 2 F
Raritan (11-6-2) 0 0 0
Holmdel (16-2-2) 1 1 2

Goals: (H) Chapman (Flanagan) 24'; Ghandi (Shields) 79'
Shots: Holmdel, 13-3
Saves: (R) Pruckowski 10; (H) Marchiano 3