HOLMDEL - Senior goalkeeper Jalen Folsom has stood on the goal line with championships hanging in the balance and walked off both elated and heartbroken. One way or another, he has been there before and when Toms River South found itself in position to pull one of the season's biggest upsets, the Indians leaned on their accomplished senior keeper.

Against top-seeded Holmdel Saturday in the Shore Conference Tournament round of 16, Folsom stood on his head to keep the Hornets off the board for 100 minutes and saved Holmdel's final attempt in the shootout to secure a 5-4 Indians win in kicks.

"It's definitely a security blanket when you have a keeper like Jalen," Toms River South coach Ron Laycock said. "He made a couple blunders when we lost to Brick Memorial and Jackson (Memorial) but he has really been rounding back into form lately. He is aggressive in the air and he has a knack for making the big save, which is what he did today."

Toms River South keeper Jalen Folsom beats Holmdel leading scorer Jack Giamanco to the ball. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Toms River South keeper Jalen Folsom beats Holmdel leading scorer Jack Giamanco to the ball. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

All five Toms River South shooters - Campbell Challoner, Shane Kluxen, Dante Pizzi, Marcus Mandica and Logan Spakowski converted their kicks and Folsom capped a standout performance in goal with a penalty-kick save to officially knock out the unbeaten Hornets.

Senior Jack Giamanco, senior Mark Walier, junior Felix Doebbel and junior Tomas Zolofra all converted for Holmdel. Senior Omar Abuattieh hit his mark on Holmdel's final attempt, but Folsom anticipated it and made the save.

"Omar put it where he wanted it," Holmdel coach Ron Poll said. "It was a good shot but (Folsom) made a great save. I don't know whether he read it or just guessed right but he came up big.

"He has been an All-Shore keeper for them for three years now and in that moment, when his team needed him, he looked the part."

Folsom made three key saves in an action-packed second half, including one on 18-goal scorer Jack Giamanco from point-blank range late in regulation.

"The first half was pretty even but the second half, they made some adjustments and were very dangerous," Laycock said of Holmdel. "Jalen came up with some big saves and we stayed organized enough in the back to keep them from getting anything too easy."

Toms River South celebrates its win over Holmdel on penalty kicks. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Toms River South celebrates its win over Holmdel on penalty kicks. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The win avenged a 1-0 regular-season loss to Holmdel for Toms River South back on Sept. 21, when Walier scored off a rebound on a shot by Giamanco in the 16th minute. Against the Shore's No. 1 team, Folsom and the Indians allowed just one goal in 180 minutes of play.

"We knew exactly how they scored on us the last time and we learned from it," Laycock said. "We had somebody following Giamanco throughout the game and tried to make sure he couldn't turn going to goal. We did a pretty good job on him but their midfield still did a really good job possessing the ball and creating some opportunities."

Toms River South has a mixed history in penalty-kick round in Folsom's three years as a starter. The Indians upset top-seeded CBA in 2017 as the No. 8 seed behind a strong outing by Folsom, who saved a pair of CBA attempts in the shootout.

Later that year, the Indians lost to Mainland on a round of penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie in the Group III semifinals and lost to Pinelands last year on penalties in the South Jersey Group III first round, with Toms River South failing to convert a single kick.

This time, the Indians were a perfect 5-for-5 and got a big stop from their senior keeper when they needed it.

"It's crazy because our season ended on PK's last year and we couldn't make one," Laycock said. "We missed all of them and our guys probably remember that game better than the CBA game the year before. Obviously, Jalen has been there, but the rest of the guys really stepped up making every shot."

Despite getting knocked out in its first SCT game, Holmdel extended its unbeaten streak to 50 games, extending back to early October of 2017. The Hornets have gone to a shootout three times during the streak: they defeated Matawan in the 2017 Central Jersey Group II semifinals and lost to Ocean in last year's SCT semifinal.

Toms River South will travel to No. 8 Colts Neck for the quarterfinals next week.


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