Boys Soccer – DellaPietro Delivers for Wall in OT Win
WALL TWP. - Wall senior Nico DellaPietro acknowledged that while his team has been on the march toward a 12-0 start to its 2020 boys soccer season, the Crimson Knights players have also been monitoring the progress - and dominance - of the other team from the Shore Conference Class B North division to start with the same record.
Colts Neck has been burying opponents by multiple goals game after game and in its final game before taking on the red-hot Cougars twice next week, Wall - the No. 6 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - finally got a reminder of what a close game feels like.
Matawan pushed the Crimson Knights into overtime Wednesday at the Wall Twp. Municipal Complex and in the 13th minute of additional time, DellaPietro kept the winning streak alive with a low strike from the top of the 18-yard box for the golden goal in a 2-1 Wall win over the Huskies.
"We have been following (Colts Neck) and we know what we're up against," DellaPietro said. "We have been in big games before and at this point, every game is going to be big. Today was big and facing Colts Neck is going to be big. We know what we have to do."
In addition to extending Wall's winning streak to 12 to open the season, it also extends an 18-game unbeaten streak by the Crimson Knights dating back to the start of the NJSIAA Group III Playoffs.
Although Wall fell in the 2019 Group III championship game on penalties, the Crimson Knights went six games in the tournament without conceding a goal. The final goal they scored in 2019 was also a golden goal by DellaPietro, whose overtime strike downed Triton, 1-0, in the Group III semifinal.
On Wednesday, Matawan jumped out to a 1-0 lead when senior Pasindu Dodangoda walked in a cross from senior Justin Skeete in the fourth minute after Skeete beat his man along the end-line. It was only the fifth goal Wall has allowed this season and marked both the first first-half goal the Crimson Knights have allowed, as well as the first time they have trailed in 2020.
Wall struck back in the 37th after a takedown inside the 18-yard box set up a successful penalty kick by senior centerback Sean Southwell.
As the second half wore on, Wall pushed for the deciding goal for most of the final 40, with Matawan mixing in the occasional dangerous run. Matawan sophomore goalkeeper Jarod McMeans made diving saves in the 79th and 87th minutes to momentarily preserve the tie, with McMeans denying shots by junior Terence Byrnes and Southwell.
"They (Matawan) had some good chances, but it was definitely our game," DellaPietro said. "We were dominating and we had all the chances and all the shots late. (McMeans) came up with some good saves but we had the last one and we finished it."
In the third minute of the second overtime period, DellaPietro finally slipped one by him. Senior Jake Pepe passed the ball to top of the six-yard box, where junior Emmett Aravich took a swing at it and hit the ball off a Matwan defender and up in the air. Another defender headed the ball out of the box and right to a wide-open DellaPietro, who called for the ball and one-timed a 22-yard shot that skipped past a diving McMeans and into the lower left corner of the goal.
"It was just in the perfect spot and it was on the ground, so I called it and I hit it," DellaPietro said. "I had teammates telling me to take a touch but I had confidence in them through the whole game and in myself at the end so why not take it?"
Wall now goes from escaping a scare from Matawan to taking on a team that has outscored its opponents by a total of 62-5 this season. Like Wall, Colts Neck has trailed just once this season and it was also against Matawan; the Huskies scored in the third minute of the first meeting between the teams and Colts Neck scored the tying goal two minutes later on the way to a 6-1 win.
The first of the two games between the top teams in B North will be Tuesday at Wall Municipal Complex, with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m.
"We needed the win," DellaPietro said. "It shouldn't have been this long but it was and we ended it. That's all that matters."