Boys Soccer – Holmdel Run Ends vs. Delran
HOLMDEL – Holmdel seniors Jack Flanagan and Jason Kyriacou have only known winning during the NJSIAA boys soccer sectional playoffs and by the time their two-year reign in Central Jersey Group II was hanging in the balance, neither senior – like many of the Hornets players who have been battling injuries during the latter stages of this season – had anything left to help keep the Hornets’ winning legacy alive.
Holmdel – the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group III and three-time defending sectional champion – fought No. 4 Delran to a scoreless draw through 100 minutes, but fell to the Bears in the round of penalty kicks, 3-2. The shootout defeat ends Holmdel’s three-year run as sectional champions, the first of which came in Central Jersey Group III on the way to an overall Group championship.
“I tell these guys every year, and they probably take it for granted a little bit because of how well they’ve done, but this isn’t easy to do,” Holmdel coach John Nacarlo said. “Winning sectional titles is hard, and I knew it was going to be hard this year, especially knowing we had to go through Delran. Injuries or no injuries, Delran has a very good team. I knew they were going to be tough to beat, and credit to our guys, they fought until the end.”
Flanagan played the entire game with a sore knee that he injured in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinal against Rumson-Fair Haven on Nov. 2, but was not fit to take a penalty kick, according to Nacarlo. Kyriacou, the team’s leading scorer this season, injured his hamstring in the SCT semifinal and did not play in any of the Hornets’ three playoff games.
Holmdel also played without freshman Brendan Wall (foot), and junior forward Gino D’Agostino and junior midfielder Menos Hiras each played limited minutes because of injuries. D’Agostino returned to action for the first time Tuesday since sustaining a groin injury against St. John Vianney on Oct. 18.
Hiras – Holmdel’s tallest player at 6-foot-2 – suffered a cut on his forehead during Friday’s 2-0 quarterfinal win over Raritan that required him to wear protection on his head and prevented him from playing balls in the air.
“Gino and Jack were pretty beat up, and (Kyriacou) is normally a guy who would take one of the P.K.’s, so we had guys stepping who might not be as used to that situation,” Nacarlo said. “One positive out of all of this, and this doesn’t mean much to the seniors, but with so many young guys getting put in different situations, it’s only going to make us better for next year.”
Playing Delran to a scoreless draw was a desirable result for the ailing Hornets, especially considering the way sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Marchiano played during regulation, overtime and in the round of kicks. Marchiano made six saves during the game and two more during the shootout, including one in which he laid out, fully extended, to stop a well-placed shot by Tristan Rafanello.
Marchiano also had to briefly leave Tuesday’s game with a cut above his left eye, but he returned once he had a bandage put on the cut.
“Considering he’s only a sophomore, Tyler showed a lot of character over the course of the season, and it’s been pretty amazing to watch the way he’s grown,” Nacarlo said. “He’s only going to be a junior next year, so as long as he continues to challenge himself, it’s going to be exciting to watch how good he can be.”
Marchiano saved Delran’s second and third attempts of the shootout to put Holmdel ahead 2-1 through three kicks. Holmdel, however, failed to convert its last two kicks, with Delran goalkeeper Nick Stone saving Holmdel’s final attempt by sophomore Andrew McStay. Bears forward Michael Olivo converted Delran’s fifth attempt with a low shot to the left side of the goal to clinch the victory.
Holmdel advanced passed No. 16 Delaware Valley in the first round of the tournament in penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.
Delran outshot Holmdel 12-6 over the 100 minutes of play and the Bears squandered two golden opportunities from the six-yard box. Marchiano spoiled the first chance by making a save on a sliding shot by Samuel Santos in the 24th minute, showing quick reactions to get low and save the shot from six yards out.
The crossbar denied Delran’s second chance, with Ryan Ferreira drilling a close-range shot square off the crossbar with Marchiano drawn off his line.
The Hornets did not have any near misses, but did manage to put four of their six shots on frame. Holmdel applied pressure over the final 10 minutes of regulation, but managed only two shots during that push.
Delran will play at No. 2 Rumson-Fair Haven in Friday’s sectional final. In beating Holmdel on Tuesday, the Bears prevented a fourth meeting between Holmdel and Rumson this season.
“Considering they hit the crossbar and had some chances, penalty kicks was probably a good result for us,” Nacarlo said. “But then again, we really put the pressure on them over the last 10 minutes of regulation, and I thought we were going to get one in overtime. Unfortunately, it didn’t come and we went to P.K.’s, and it just didn’t go our way this time.”
Delran 0, Holmdel 0
Delran advances in penalty kicks, 3-2
Penalty Kicks: (D) Ferreira, Taylor, Olivo; (H) Zolofra, Arena
Shots: Delran, 12-6
Saves: (D) Stone 4; (H) Marchiano 5