Boys Soccer – Howell Rides Into Sectional Final on Borenstein’s Hat Trick
FARMINGDALE -- With two fellow starters sitting out the entirety of Wednesday's NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV semifinal vs. Old Bridge and several others limping off the field over the course of a knock-down-drag-out battle for a spot in the sectional final, Howell junio Tyler Borenstein was one of many Rebels players who had to adapt to a more demanding assignment in order to win the game.
With his team needing a lift, Borenstein provided one. Actually, he provided three.
Shifting from center fullback to left wing, Borenstein went off for his first career hat trick as Howell -- the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group IV bracket -- rolled to a 3-0 win over the No. 14 Knights.
With the victory, Howell earns its second trip to the Central Group IV final in the last three years and will travel to play top-seeded Princeton Saturday in search of its first sectional championship since 1988.
Borenstein moved up in the attack Tuesday because both starting wingers -- senior Bryce Ocholla and junior Kam Brown -- were unavailable due to injury. According to Howell coach Rich Yuro, both Ocholla and Brown might have been available in an emergency and either or both could return to action in Saturday's sectional final.
That emergency scenario was starting to take shape, with three Howell players limping off at different points of the game. Junior Nick Turturro walked off gingerly early on before returning to action, junior midfielder Tye Maser was carted off with an ankle injury and did not return, and Eric Pray -- starting at Borenstein's usual center back spot -- also limped off in the final minutes, but was walking normally after the game.
With a chance to be more offensive-minded and his team needing a jolt, Borenstein went to work in the 12th minute. He settled a cross floated into the box by Turturro, settled it inside the six-yard box, and knocked it past Old Bridge goalkeeper Chris Liberal.
Borenstein struck again in the third minute of the second half, winning a ball sent to the the top of the box by junior John Fiorillo and smoking it to the lower left of the frame, just inside the post for a 2-0 Rebels lead.
Howell put the game on ice in the 67th, then Turturro ran down a long pass from junior Quinn Mills and carried it from midfield to the goal. When Liberal stepped to the ball, Turturro laid a pass off to Borenstein, who completed the finish and the hat trick.
Borenstein entered the game with two goals and five assists on the season.
Howell will travel to Princeton Saturday in what will be a rematch of a 2021 first-round game in which Howell upset fourth-seeded Princeton on penalty kicks as a No. 13 seed. The Rebels went on to reach the sectional final and lost to Freehold Township.