By Warren Rappleyea
Old Bridge High School’s boys’ soccer team rebounded from its opening-round defeat in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament to knock off New Brunswick High School, 3-2, in double overtime Oct. 31 in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament.
With the game about to go to penalty kicks, the Knights’ Greg Johnson won a battle for a loose ball and bore down on the New Brunswick goal. The Old Bridge striker smartly lofted his shot over Zebras netminder Jomar Vizcaino to net the game-winner.
Johnson’s tally ended a track meet of a game that saw plenty of scoring chances and acrobatics from both goalkeepers. Old Bridge keeper Mark Akselrud stopped 16 shots, including a huge save on a shot that appeared headed for the corner about a minute before Johnson scored.
Prior to the match, Old Bridge coach Chris McGrath said his team would need to contain the Zebras’ dangerous Michael Rojas. The Knights managed to contain Rojas to two goals — with a little help from the wood work — and posted three themselves and are now set to host 15th-seeded Manalapan High School Nov. 3.
Joel Quist scored the first two goals for Old Bridge — both in the first half sandwiched between Rojas’ first tally of the game on a penalty kick. Just moments after Rojas scored, he threatened again and was awarded another penalty kick after an Old Bridge defender pulled him down in the box. Rojas’ shot bounced off the goal post, and the teams played on. Rojas tied things up near the midpoint of the second half, and things would stay that way despite chances by both teams until Johnson’s goal.
Old Bridge had last played Oct. 21, when Edison High School scored a 1-0 upset in the GMC Tournament, ending the Knights’ 11-game unbeaten streak.
“Our guys didn’t want the season to end that way, and they had a week or so to think about it,” McGrath said. “This team is loaded with seniors, and they went through some tough times when they were sophomores. They pride themselves on getting through adversity. They really wanted this game.”
The Knights’ next opponent downed second-seeded Princeton High School on penalty kicks after playing through a draw through two overtimes.
Old Bridge’s girls’ soccer team was set to return to action Nov. 1 in a Central Jersey, Group IV match at home against 11th-seeded Hillsborough High School. The Lady Knights (12-4-1) are seeded sixth.
Old Bridge was seeded first in the GMC Tournament but fell, 1-0, in the quarterfinals to ninth-seeded South Brunswick High School. Dominique Lovallo scored the lone goal and Nicole Carbone kept a clean sheet in the Lady Knights’ first-round victory over 17th-seeded South Plainfield High School.
Sayreville War Memorial High School’s girls, who earned the fifth seed, were also set to open the Central Jersey, Group IV event Nov. 1 against 10th-seeded Edison. The Bombers (12-5) were eliminated in the GMC quarterfinals by Piscataway Township High School, 5-2. Brianne Barbosa and Nicole Cena scored for the Blue and Gray.
In an opening-round game against 12th-seeded Woodbridge High School, Sayreville parlayed first-half goals by Eliza David, Stephanie DeOcampo and Barbosa into a 3-0 win. Jordan Wilson made 14 saves to earn the shutout in goal.
Sayreville’s boys, meanwhile, ended the campaign with an 8-8-1 mark. Coach Nick Cifelli’s team was seeded 16th in the GMC Tournament and bested 17th-seeded Woodbridge, 5-0, in the first round. Zach Colgan scored twice, while Joey Martinez, Ope Olaloko and Sebastian Cordoso also scored in the win.
That set up a first-round meeting with top-seeded Monroe Township High School, with the Bombers prevailing on goals by Colgan and freshman Frankie Asterita. Michael Phillip made 13 saves.
Sayreville’s season concluded with a 5-3 loss in the quarterfinals to Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen, which was the ninth seed. Colgan scored twice more to give him five goals in three GMC Tournament matches. Olakolo notched the Bombers’ other goal.