Boys Soccer – Geerinck’s Goal Powers TR South to Fourth Straight Win
BRICK TWP. - The beginning of the 2015 season ranged from scary to frustrating for the Toms River South boys soccer team, but since enduring a coaching ordeal and a lopsided opening-day loss to Holmdel, the defending Shore Conference Class A South champions have returned to form.
Senior Cameron Geerinck scored in the 28th minute Monday and the Indians held on to beat Brick Memorial, 1-0, for their fourth straight win.
A season that began with former head coach Ed Leibe and his assistant Ron Laycock switching positions due to a heart attack that Leibe suffered in the middle of August, followed by a 3-0 loss to a Holmdel team that has not won a game since is all of a sudden looking up thanks to the four-game surge. In its last two games, Toms River South has edged Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial, both of which were A South contenders last season.
"The season didn't start the way we wanted it to, but there was never any panic or real concern," Geerinck said. "We've had some guys step up and made some tweaks to the lineup and we've responded as a group."
The two teams engaged in a physical struggle for the first 25-plus minutes of action before Geerinck broke through and the game proceeded to open up. Junior center midfielder Tyler Egnatuk played the ball to Geerinck at the top of the 18-yard box, where the senior forward quickly turned, split two Brick Memorial defenders and slid a shot past goalkeeper Joe Zahlaman and into the far side netting.
"I knew they had a lot of size in the back coming in, and when you face bigger guys, the best thing to do is usually to test their quickness," said Geerinck, referring to 6-foot-5 center back Alejandro Fernandez and 6-2 outside back Dave Van Note. "I knew that once I got the ball, whatever move I was going to make, I wanted to go quickly and not give them time to react. On the goal, I got the ball with my back to the goal and just made a quick spin move and was able to get through."
Geerinck's fifth goal of the season set the tone for the next several minutes, during which Toms River South (4-1, 4-0) pressured the Brick Memorial defense with better possession and a number of direct attacks on the net. The Indians nearly grabbed a 2-0 lead when sophomore Mike Babcock ripped a 30-yard shot that Zahlaman deflected up and off the crossbar.
Despite the Toms River South push, Brick Memorial (2-2-1, 2-1-1) nearly tied the game when junior Shawn Behrend broke free from the Indians back line for a one-on-one chance against Toms River South goalkeeper Dom Pizzi. Behrend took a touch and was able to beat Pizzi to the ball, but not before the junior keeper close the space enough to deflect the shot attempt away to force a corner kick.
Brick Memorial owned a 4-1 edge in corner kicks, but that was the only offensive advantage the Mustangs enjoyed Monday. Toms River South outshot the Mustangs 17-7 overall and 9-3 in shots on frame.
The Mustangs would create one more chance to equalize when junior Angel Suarez beat the defense on a ball played through the middle in the final minute. Suarez ran onto it and slid a shot past a charging Pizzi, but the potential game-tying shot skipped wide of the right post to help Toms River South escape Brick Memorial's last threat.
Now that the Indians are on a winning streak, a return to normalcy has set in for the returning players, even with respect to the new coaching arrangement.
"It's exactly the same as what we're used to," Geerinck said. "They've always had a good-cop-bad-cop thing and that's still there."