Written by Kyle Clancy
Shore Sports Network Contributor

TOMS RIVERIt has been 22 years since the Ocean Township boys soccer team played in the NJSIAA Group III final. After another win Tuesday in the Group III semifinals, that drought will end this Saturday.

Ocean defeated Seneca, 3-0, at Gernerd Field at Toms River North High School to earn a trip to the Group III final for the first time since winning Group III in 1996.  

Spartans senior midfielder Leo Montesinos scored with 3:42 left in the first half to open the scoring. Senior midfielder Andrew Shaw scored Ocean’s second goal in the 58th minute, while Ocean senior midfielder Luke Yates scored on the very next possession.

The Spartans came into the game as the 11th-ranked team  in N.J. by NJ.com and the No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 thanks to a 9 - 0 - 1 stretch over the last 10 games.

“Once we won the first game for the Shore Conference, we keep going and going,” said Montesinos. “We practice hard and we keep on going.”

“In order to prepare for this game, we had to watch their games on YouTube,” coach John Terlecsky said. “So we knew coming into the game Seneca would be playing the long ball.”

The elements for tonight's game were not ideal, as both teams had to deal with slippery turf conditions and wind.

“We were not expecting the wind,” Terlecsky stated. “Couple that with the swift surface, it really played into our hands. We can play on turf so the turf conditions favored our style of play.”

“We were a little rough in the beginning,” said Montesinos. “We didn't really get the possession style of play which we are accustomed to playing.

“Once Santeino got the ball, they started to foul him. I was able to put the ball into the back of the net.”

“After Leo’s first strike, it was gravy for us,” Terlecsky said. “We got through the half. The surface was very fast. The ball was running off the table and it worked in our favor.”

Although Ocean is in its first group final in 22 years, the Spartans made it to the group semifinal stage two seasons ago and lost in the sectional final last season.

“For the past few years with this group, it has been on day at a time,” Terlecsky said. “We respect everyone we play. Hopefully we have one more in us.”

The Spartans advance to play Millburn in the Group III championship game at Kean University on Saturday. During its 10-game run, Ocean has had to overcome Holmdel, who was ranked No. 3 in the state, on penalty kicks in the Shore Conference Tournament. They also defeated CBA, 1 - 0, in sudden death overtime to win the SCT

“We are not going to be playing against the same level as Holmdel or CBA going forward, so knowing that, we can compete with anyone in the state,” Montesinos said.


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