Vikings close season following deep run in GMC tourney

soccer ball

By Warren Rappleyea

Despite a loss in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament on penalty kicks, the South Brunswick High School’s boys’ soccer team ended up with a 14-11 record that included a strong showing in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament.

The Vikings ended falling to neighboring North Brunswick Township High School in the sectional tournament Oct. 31 after also losing to the Raiders in the championship match of the GMC Tournament — an exciting 2-1 overtime affair Oct. 29. But coach Christ Hayston’s team nonetheless distinguished itself down the stretch.

South Brunswick entered the conference tournament with two straight successes: a 1-0 win over Monroe Township High School and a 2-1 victory against Piscataway Township High School, which was the Vikings’ first overtime win of the campaign.

In the tournament opener against 12th-seeded South River High School, the fifth-seeded Vikings struck quickly. Kunal Thakral found the net a mere six minutes in. The Rams, however, rebounded to knot things up prior to the half. Midfielder Dylan Inguardi scored when play resumed, and Thakral added an insurance tally to give South Brunswick a 3-1 win.

In the quarterfinals, Hayston’s team made quick work of Edison High School, the 13th seed. Freshman Jake Stump scored his seventh goal of the season to put the Vikings in front at the 12-minute mark. Thakral scored two goals, and all-purpose midfielder Sergio Cabellero rounded out the scoring with his sixth goal of the season. Nick Hoffman made four saves to earn the shutout in net.

That set up a meeting with Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen in the semifinals. The two teams split a pair of regular-season clashes and are evenly matched. Again, South Brunswick got off to an early lead, as Thakral scored off a feed from Raam Chinnaya at the eight-minute mark.

St. Joe’s equalized early in the second half, but Thakral did it again — hitting pay dirt with a header off Kevin Nunez’s free kick with 12 minutes to go in regulation. After a furious rally, the Falcons tied the score with time running down to send the match into overtime.

Jake Stump’s seventh goal of the season made winners out of the Vikings. The freshman picked up a loose ball at the top of the box and blasted the ball into the net to send South Brunswick to the finals.

Thakral ended the campaign as the Vikings’ leading scorer with 13 goals and six assists. The deceptive Cabellero posted six goals and a team-leading nine assists, while Nunez added three goals and eight assists.

“We really relied on our defense to keep us in games,” Hayston said. “Our team was very responsible, and the midfielders did an outstanding job while also contributing to the attack.”

Key returnees for the Vikings include Inguardi, a junior midfielder who notched six goals and six assists, sophomore strikers Jared Budhu (three goals, two assists) and Vinayak Iyel (two goals, two goals), junior fullback Christis Lalas and sophomore keeper Justin Cross.

Exit mobile version