JACKSON TWP. - Before Wednesday's Shore Conference Class A South match against Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial had not allowed more than one goal in any single game. The Mustangs, however, went where no team has against the No. 4 team against the Shore Sports Network Top 10 by scoring two goals in a 2:30 minute span.

Instead of collapsing under the pressure, the young Jaguars roster responded by closing out a 3-2 win over surging Brick Memorial to remain alone atop the Class A South standings.

Conceding two goals might have been a new experience for this year's Jaguars team of mostly juniors and sophomores, but playing in a close game was not. Jackson Memorial has tight wins over Toms River South, Toms River North  and Steinert, and after beating Brick Memorial, 2-0, in the season-opener, the Jaguars jumped out in front early and held on to sweep the season series.

"They may be young but they are good soccer players," Jackson Memorial coach Steve Bado said of his team, which starts just two seniors. "They are still learning how to win, but they are a talented group and they have shown a lot of mental toughness in the first 10 games."

Sophomore Dan Russo starred again for Jackson Memorial on Tuesday, recording a hat trick in the first 42:22 to stake his team to a 3-0 lead. Russo's hat trick increased his goal total this season to 13 and gives him nine in the last five games.

Russo knocked in a point-blank shot on a follow-up to Ed Jacoby's initial shot in the fourth minute and later gave the Jaguars a 2-0 lead with a chip shot to the far right post in the 24th after Joe Schlageter fed him the ball.

Jackson took a 3-0 lead when Russo drew a foul on the left side of the 18-yard box and finished the penalty kick in the 43rd minute.

"With most goals, you have to work hard for them," Russo said. "I get fouled a lot. My jersey is this dirty after just about every game. As much as you would like them all to be pretty, most of the time, you have to put in the extra effort."

Brick Memorial rallied with a pair of goals that came within 2:30 of one another. Senior Erik Fatovic slammed home the first goal off a diagonal pass over the top from freshman Joe Zalinsky in the 48th. Senior Brian Gerard then drew a foul at the top edge of the box and senior Steve Ferebee knocked home the penalty kick in the 50th.

Fatovic's goal was his eighth in the Mustangs' last past five games, during which Brick Memorial is 4-1 after losing on Monday. After falling behind 3-0 on the scoreboard and being outshot 9-4, the Mustangs rallied to within one goal and outshot Jackson Memorial 9-6 from the 44th minute on.

"Fatovic is dangerous, so they're not a team where you can breathe easy after you go up by two of three goals," Bado said. "We've had some scorers like him over the years, so I know what it feels like to have that guy on your side and you never really feel like you're out of the game. He got his chance and he finished it, which gave them some momentum."

Jackson Memorial's win on Wednesday puts another game's worth of distance between the Jaguars and the Mustangs in the Class A South standings. Friday will present another challenge to first-place Jackson Memorial, which hosts three-time defending Class A South champion Toms River South in a battle of the top two teams in the A South race through Wednesday's action.

Jackson Memorial beat Toms River South, 2-0, in Toms River and another win over the Indians would increase the Jaguars' lead in the standings to two games, while a Toms River South win would create a tie in the loss column.

"I think it's going to be a lot harder (the second time through the division) because (teams) know who we are and they know who I am," Russo said. "If I'm man-marked, I'm man-marked; if I'm not, I'm not. I'll continue to get shots off and I'm sure I'll have bad games, but I just want to keep playing well, scoring goals and helping my team out."


Box Score

Jackson Memorial 3, Brick Memorial 2

Brick Mem. (5-3-1, 4-3-1)022
Jackson Mem. (9-1, 6-1)213

Goals (Assists): (BM) Erik Fatovic (Joe Zalinsky) 48', Steve Ferebee (PK) 50'; (JM) Dan Russo (Ed Jacoby) 3', Dan Russo (Joe Schlageter) 24', Dan Russo (PK) 43'
Shots: Jackson Memorial, 15-13
Saves: (BM) Brandon Byrnes 6; (JM) Nick Kinzler 5


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