Boys Soccer – Wall Back in CJ 3 Final
By Liz Matakevich
Shore Sports Network Contributor
WALL TWP. - Despite chilly, windy conditions during its semifinal match of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III playoffs, the sixth-seeded Wall boys soccer team capitalized on two chances in the second half to beat seventh-seeded Somerville 2-0 to reach the championship game.
Wall advances to the sectional final for the first time since 2008 and will play Friday at top-seeded Allentown, which defeated Princeton 1-0 in their semifinal match.
West Windsor-Plainsboro North defeated Wall in the 2008 Central Jersey Group III final, which was Wall’s first sectional final appearance since winning the Group III title in 2005. Wall lost to Princeton – the eventual Group III co-champion – in last year’s sectional quarterfinal, 2-1.
“The guys have worked so hard all year and with a little bit of luck on their side as well, we were able to create chances to get us into the sectional final,” Wall head coach Garry Linstra said. “The guys wanted to go against the wind in the first and with it in the second and the idea worked out pretty well.”
Zach Hetzel struck first for Wall to end the scoreless run in the 53rd minute. Hetzel broke through two defenders on the left side and got off a strong ground shot to the far right corner of the net, past diving Somerville goalkeeper Nick Nugent for a 1-0 lead.
“It was great to be able to get that first goal for my team,” Hetzel said. “I saw the goalie come out of net a little bit and was able to capitalize and score, which was great.”
The Crimson Knights would create another opportunity 10 minutes later in the 63rd minute, when Chris Barcas sent a corner kick to the front of the net, with younger brother Brendan Barcas going up to get a head on it to put it in for a 2-0 Wall lead.
The insurance goal from Barcas allowed the Crimson Knights to focus more on defense, as Somerville continued to try to create an offensive attack to get on the board.
“The goal from Barcas was huge because we were able to focus more on just shutting them down on defense and not so much scoring,” Linstra said. “They had a really good offensive front, and we wanted to make sure they couldn’t get back in the game."
Alex Noriega, Pablo Benegas, and Alex Alarcon were all very strong up front for Somerville, using their speed to create scoring opportunities.
Alarcon took a powerful shot from well outside the 18-yard box to the center of the net in the 73rd minute, but Crimson Knights goalkeeper Jack Wishart was there to make the save.
Noriega came up with another hard shot in the 75th minute from far out, but the ball went over the net and out of bounds. In the last minute of the game, Alarcon tried one last attempt to put the Pioneers on the board, but Wishart made a nice save to keep their 2-0 shutout victory.
Wall had seven shots on net to Somerville’s nine, with Wishart making seven saves for Wall and Nugent making two for the Pioneers.
“Our defense has been great all year,” Linstra said. “Along with Wishart making a nice save and our four guys in the back with Cameron Wenz at the forefront of the defense, we were able to keep the lead to get the victory.”
Wall 2, Somerville 0
Goals (Assists): (W) Hetzel 53’; B. Barcas (C. Barcas) 63’
Shots: Somerville, 9-7
Saves: (S) Nugent 2; (W) Wishart 7