By Liz Matakevich
Shore Sports Network Contributor

RUMSON - The second-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven boys soccer team made school history this season by securing a spot in its first ever Central Jersey Group II final. In the end, the program that had already made this trip before was the one that advanced to the Group II semifinals.

Rumson senior defender Ryan Strang carries the ball forward against Delran during Friday's Central Jersey Group II final. (Photo by Liz Matakevich)

After countless offensive attacks by the Bulldogs on net, No. 4 seed Delran used its speed to quickly form a counter-attack, getting past Rumson’s defense and scoring the only goal of the game in the 42nd minute to win the title 1-0, ending Rumson’s memorable season.

The sectional championship is Delran’s first since 2009, when the Bears won at Raritan on their way to the overall Group II championship

“I thought we dominated in the first 20 minutes of the game, but then we seemed to take a back seat after we didn’t score,” Rumson's Eamon Kitson said. “From that point forward we never really got together to come back.”

The Bulldogs started the game off by quickly moving the ball into Delran territory. Kitson caught Delran goalkeeper Nick Stone off guard and out of the net in the fourth minute of the game, blasting a powerful shot off that went out of bounds over the net. Mike Slutz had a breakaway opportunity in the sixth minute to put one in the back of the net but Stone came up with the save.

After the two near goals, the momentum changed hands and carried into the second half.

In the 41st minute, Chris Drummond laid a corner kick right to the front of the net where 6-foot-2 Rumson defender Matt Dell crushed a header towards the goal that bounced off the crossbar. Delran quickly shifted gears and countered up field to Ryan Ferreira, who made a pass up to Trevor Hembling. Hembling rushed past a defender and struck a hard shot that landed in the back of the net to give the Bears a 1-0 lead over Rumson.

“I saw them hit the crossbar, and I knew it was going to be a quick counter-attack by us so I sprinted up the field, and after I got the ball from Ryan, I just saw me and the goalie and I finished it,” Hembling said.

The Bulldogs were on the wrong end of an offsides call in the 51st minute when Gassert flicked a pass over to Jamie Martin, who rushed up to net and struck a shot into the back of the net and would have tied the game up, but was called back.

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“We thought we got one to tie it, but then it came back offsides,” Kitson said. “It was a tough game. We haven’t played anyone this physical in a while.”

Dell had another chance to get the equalizer goal in the 75th minute off a header, but Stone came up with the save once more to shut down the threat.

“I give Delran a lot of credit because the game could have went either way, and they played their tails off,” Rumson coach Will Gould said.

The Bulldogs' other accomplishments this season included the Shore Conference Class A Central title and their first trip to the Shore Conference Tournament and Central Jersey Group II championship games.

“We’re calling this the historic season,” Kitson said. “After being the first to accomplish all those things, even though we didn’t take the title we can still say that no one else has done it.”

Box Score

Delran 1, Rumson-Fair Haven 0

1

2

F

Delran (17-6-1)

0

1

1

Rumson-Fair Haven (19-3-1)

0

0

0

Goals (Assists): (D) Hembling (Ferreira) 42’