Long Branch celebrates a goal by senior Jeremy Hernandez (center). (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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The Long Branch boys soccer team earned a home game in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament, but found out Tuesday that it would have to go on the road for the first round due to the district shutting down the campus for after-school activities for the remainder of the week.
Faced with a changing set of circumstances, Long Branch turned to its senior leader to get the Green Wave started Tuesday at the home pitch of No. 21 seed St. Rose.
Senior Jeremy Hernandez buried a direct kick in the nine minute and led a strong defensive effort that helped Long Branch -- the No. 12 seed in the SCT -- pull off a 1-0 win over the Purple Roses to advance to the round of 16 against No. 5 Point Pleasant Boro.
Hernandez has been a staple in the Long Branch formation since his freshman season and with the Green Wave graduating a talented, accomplished senior class at the end of the 2021-22 school year, Hernandez has been a leader for a Long Branch squad that is hoping to eventually reach the NJSIAA sectional final round for the third time in four seasons. The Green Wave have never been as far as the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals.
Long Branch is unlikely to be the better seed Monday's SCT quarterfinal round and should the Green Wave advance to face No. 13 Middletown North instead of No. 4 Freehold Township, it is not determined whether or not Long Branch would be able to host the game on Monday.
For now, the Green Wave will try to take down Class B South champion Point Boro on the road after the Panthers got past Manchester, 2-0, on Tuesday. Point Boro's lone loss this season was a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Freehold Township, which also came on the Panthers' home field.
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