TINTON FALLS - The Ranney boys had a big goal-scorer to replace this year after losing striker Ademola Odunlami to graduation and while they replaced him with literally a big goal-scorer - 6-foot-7 sophomore and basketball standout Charles Anyichie - Panthers have embraced a pack mentality when it comes to scoring.

Against Shore Conference Class B Central division rival St. Rose on Wednesday, the new approach paid off.

Sophomore Thomas Boyan headed in a long free kick from senior center back Ethan Marston for the go-ahead goal in the 70th minute and Ranney held on to defeat the Purple Roses, 2-1, for the second straight season.

"We know it's always going to be a tough game against St. Rose," said senior goalkeeper and captain Anthony Virone, who saved seven shots. "We've won the last two by one goal and we are trying to win the division this year, so obviously this was big."

Ranney sophomore Thomas Boyan. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Ranney sophomore Thomas Boyan. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Boyan's goal was part of a response by the Panthers to St. Rose tying the game in the 51st minute on a header by sophomore Kyle Corrigan on a corner-kick service by senior Matt LaDuca. At one point, St. Rose was outshooting Ranney, 13-7, but the Panthers mounted an assault that flipped the count in Ranney's favor, 14-13, before St. Rose took the final two attempts of the match. Each team hit eight of their shots on goal.

"Once we were up one-nil, we started sitting back a little bit, sensing it was going to be hard for us to score another one," Virone said. "Once they tied it up, we went back to our starting formation, which was an attacking formation, to get another goal."

Ranney opened the scoring thanks to a fortunate bounce. Sophomore Jett Pacifico shot a direct kick from 30 yards out on frame and the ball skipped under the legs of St. Rose senior goalkeeper Casey Ballou.

Pacifico and Boyan were the beneficiaries of Ranney's balanced attack on Wednesday, continuing the change from last season, when the Panthers leaned on Odulamni for 14 goals on the way to a second-place finish in Class B Central behind Point Pleasant Beach.

"This year, we're not one person - we have a lot of people who can score," Virone said. "We also have a large senior class so we know each other and the chemistry is there now."

Although he did not score on Wednesday, Anyichie caused problems for St. Rose's back line, particularly in the second half. He dribbled through the defense multiple times, including once to get himself a shot from the six-yard line, which Ballou saved.

"Last year, we had A.O. and he was our top goal-scorer," Virone said. "This year, we didn't really have a goal-scorer but Charles has stepped up. This is his first year and he's really stepping into A.O.'s shoes."

Anyichie transferred to Ranney last February and is expected to be an impact newcomer for the defending NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winners on the basketball court this winter.

Wednesday's Ranney win gives the Panthers, St. Rose and Point Beach one loss apiece in B Central play. Point Beach beat Ranney but lost to Mater Dei Prep on Monday and has yet to play St. Rose.


Box Score

Ranney 2, St. Rose 1

St. Rose (3-2-1, 1-1-0)011
Ranney (2-3, 2-1)112

Goals (Assists): (SR) Kyle Corrigan (Matt DeLuca) 51'; (R) Jett Pacifico (DK) 37', Thomas Boyan (Ethan Marston) 70'
Shots: St. Rose, 15-14
Saves: (SR) Casey Ballou 6; (R) Anthony Virone 7


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