NJSIAA Tournament

Sectional Finals

Central Jersey Group III

(1) Wall 1, (11) Ocean 0

Senior Thomas Perry scored five minutes into the second half for the lone goal of the game and the Crimson Knights turned in their fourth straight shutout of the tournament to top the Spartans and win the Central Group III title for the first time in 15 years.

After absorbing Ocean's best shot in the first half, Wall had a strong wind at its back in the second half and took full advantage by outshooting Ocean, 16-1, after the break following a 5-2 Ocean advantage during the scoreless first half.

The most important of those 16 shots came off the right foot of Perry in the 45th minute. Senior Tagg Ancrum played the ball in the air down the middle of the field and junior Jake Pepe flicked a header toward the right side of the 18-yard box. Perry beat goalkeeper Isaac Greenspan to the ball and slid a shot to the far left corner of the goal for a 1-0 Wall lead.

Junior Philip Lyons made some noise between the 59th and 61st minutes with a pair of dangerous strikes, the first of which may have crossed the goal-line. Lyons blasted a 25-yard strike that hit the bottom of the crossbar and came down close to the goal-side of the line, but the linesman and referee ruled it no goal

Lyons came right back with a 20-yard blast on target in the 61st that Greenspan parried away with a diving save.

Perry's goal was enough thanks to another pristine effort by Wall's back four and junior goalkeeper Sebastian Campanile. The shutout was the 15th of the season for Campanile and his defense, which sets a new program single-season record.

Wall's last sectional championship came in 2004 and was part of a run to the overall Group III championship. The Crimson Knights advance to the Group III semifinal Wednesday at Toms River North, where they will take on South Jersey champion Triton.

 

South Jersey Group IV

(16) Toms River North 2, (2) Egg Harbor 1 (OT)

Junior Parker Nickelsen beat a pair of defenders off the dribble and volleyed a 22-yard strike to the far side netting for the golden goal in overtime, giving the Mariners a win over the Eagles to complete an improbable run to the South Group IV title as a No. 16 seed.

The sectional title is Toms River North's first since winning the Central Jersey Group IV championship in 2009, which it also won in overtime by beating Rancocas Valley, 2-1. The Mariners were the No. 1 seed that season and after winning four home games to bring home the prize, Toms River North won four straight on the road against seeds No. 1 (Clearview), No. 8 (Cherry Hill East), No. 4 (Jackson Memorial) and No. 2 (Egg Harbor).

Nickelsen scored in three of Toms River North's four state-tournament wins and saved his most dramatic goal for last.

Toms River North fell behind, 1-0, on a first-half goal by Kevin Aguairiano off an assist from leading scorer Ahmad Brock in the 12th minute.

The Mariners settled in by the start of the second half and earned a penalty kick in the first five minutes. Senior Jeff Castro saved the initial attempt by Toms River North senior Logan Mack but was ruled by the official to have moved too early, giving Mack another chance. Castro again denied Mack on the second attempt.

Although initially deflate, Mack came back to pick himself up five minutes later. Sophomore Nico Gonzalez beat a host of defenders along the end-line and crossed the ball in the air. Mack lined it up and headed it in for the equalizer in the 49th minute.

Toms River North will look to keep its unforgettable run going Wednesday night at Rowan University in the Group IV semifinal against Hunterdon Central.

 

Central Jersey Group IV

(2) Hunterdon Central 2, (13) Long Branch 0

Senior Jack Parente scored a goal and assisted the other by junior Josh Noble as the Red Devils cooled off the Green Wave to win their fourth sectional title in the last 10 years and second in the last four.

Senior Thomas Schmitt beat his man in the 27th minute and slipped a perfectly-timed through-ball to Parente, who shook off a defender and finished to the lower left of the goal.

Hunterdon Central increased the pressure in the second half and got its insurance goal in the 48th. Parente took an initial shot at Long Branch goalkeeper Tyler Abbot saved but Noble was on the spot for the rebound and slammed home the finish.

Long Branch played a competitive first half, conceding a 5-4 shot advantage to the Red Devils, but the host side overwhelmed the Green Wave in the second half, outshooting them 8-1.

Hunterdon Central will look to advance back to the Group IV final when it takes on Toms River North in Wednesday's group semifinal at Rowan University.

 

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