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NJSIAA Group III Championship

Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019

At Kean University

Wall (17-4-1) vs. Millburn (13-4-2)

For the second straight year, the Group III championship will come down to a Shore Conference Class B North division champion and Millburn. Last year, it was Ocean that took on the Millers and emerged with a 1-0 win on a late goal, so while Wall enters Sunday trying to end a 15-yard state championship drought, Millburn is looking for redemption after letting a title slip away in 2018.

Millburn has put the clamps on the opposition during the state tournament, allowing just one goal in five games and 420-plus minutes behind goalkeeper Zach Parker and the defense. On the attack, senior Alex Migoya has carried Millburn through the state tournament with five of the team’s seven goals and has scored in four of the five. The only game in which Migoya failed to score was a 0-0 draw vs. Cliffside Park in which the Millers advanced on penalties.

Wall senior Tag Ancrum. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Millburn has won four state championships and is the rare program to win titles in three different groups. The Millers won the Group IV title in 2012 and their trip to the Group III final was their first trip to the final day of the season since. They also won the Group III championship in 2008 and took a share of the Group II title in both 1986 and 1987.

Wall is looking to return to the top of Group III for the first time since 2004, which marked the fifth time the Crimson Knights won an overall group title. The first four came consecutively from 1978 to 1981 and lost in the final in both 1987 and 1992.

This year’s team follows the model of past Wall squads in that it is a defense-first side. The Crimson Knights have yet to allow a goal during the NJSIAA Tournament and have given up just 13 in 22 matches for the season with a school-record 16 shutouts. The back line is led by seniors Tagg Ancrum, Matt Penkethman, John Knight and Bladmir Vasquez, while junior Sebastian Campanile mans the goal.

Wall junior Jake Pepe defended by Freehold Township junior Joe Lardaro. Photo by Paula Lopez)

Ancrum is also the team’s second-leading scorer with six goals and seven assists, including three goals during the tournament. The senior center back also assisted junior Nico DellaPietro’s golden goal to beat Triton in Thursday’s Group III semifinal. Junior Jake Pepe leads the team with 10 goals and six assists, including two goals and three assists during the state tournament.

With two defensive teams on the field at Kean on Sunday, the Group III game is almost a lock to finish with at least one team posting a shutout. Wall has a senior-heavy group that has refused to concede over the last three weeks but Millburn has been through the tougher road to the final and has the bitter taste of last year’s defeat driving this year’s run. The Pick: Millburn, 1-0

 

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