South River boys fall to top seed in sectional soccer tournament

soccer ball

By Jimmy Allinder

It took extra time for top-seeded Asbury Park High School to dispose of a game South River High School, 2-1, in the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group I boys’ soccer tournament.

The fourth-seeded Rams, sparked by Nark Miranda Jr.’s 16th goal of the season in regulation, played as aggressively as they always do throughout the spirited contest, but the Blue Bishops prevailed by scoring the winning goal in the second overtime period.

South River (15-4-1) ends its season, while Asbury Park moves on to face third-seeded Palmyra High School in the championship game Nov. 10. The South Jersey school defeated 10th-seeded Highland Park High School, 1-0.

The Rams made it to the semifinals by knocking off 13th-seeded Point Pleasant Beach High School, 2-0, and fifth-seeded Bound Brook High School, 4-2.

“We’ve played well for most of the season, but since the tournament began, we’ve bought into a style of play that forces our tempo on the opponent,” South River coach Eric Clays said. “By speeding things up, we’ve been able to make teams uncomfortable because they’re not used to it.

“Quick, unselfish ball movement prevents defenses from setting up. It creates holes, which we look to exploit. Our defense, too, has been very effective in recent games.”

Most of the scoring has been spread among four Rams who have made it difficult for opponents to concentrate on stopping one player. They are seniors Miranda (14 assists to go with his team-leading 16 goals), Matthew Pietryzk (15 goals, six assists) and Michael Pisco (12 goals, three assists) and junior Christian Almeida (13 goals, six assists).

Clays said major contributions have come from seniors Josh Santos, Alex Oliveira and Dennis Fernandes, and juniors Basaam Yousseff, Kyle Santos, and Jake Boyd.

“They’ve bought into a field position mentality of playing the game on opponent’s half of the field,” Clays said. “We clear out of the defensive end, move up the field and get in a position to mount an attack.”

Another strong player has been goaltender Eric Lucas, who has used his athletic ability to makes numerous important saves. The junior has 176 saves on the season.

“We know playing the No. 1 seed will be a challenge,” Clays said the day before the match. “We respect Asbury Park for the great season they’ve had.”

Exit mobile version