Florence High boys’ soccer off to strong start this season

Florence Township Memorial High School defender Nick Yurcho puts in a cross to the midfield against Holy Cross Preparatory Academy player in a Sept. 13 home game. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann
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Florence Township Memorial High School defender Nick Yurcho puts in a cross to the midfield against Holy Cross Preparatory Academy player in a Sept. 13 home game. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann

The Florence Township Memorial High School boys’ soccer team will look to build off of a strong start this season as it bids to punch a ticket to the state tournament.

As of Sept. 13, the Florence boys’ soccer team has hit the ground running this year with a string of three consecutive victories.

The Flashes earned a 3-0 victory at Riverside High School on Sept. 4; a 4-2 triumph at New Egypt High School on Sept. 10; and a 1-0 home decision on Sept. 13 against Holy Cross Preparatory Academy.

Florence seeks to bounce back from an exit in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 1 sectional tournament last fall, when the Flashes were eliminated by New Egypt, 1-0. The Flashes ended the year at 11-8-2.

Florence coach Kyle Ballay said he is confident his Flashes will return to the state tournament.

Ballay also revealed that his squad is aiming for a title in the Burlington County Scholastic League’s Freedom Division.

“We brought back a lot of players this year, so our first goal is to take the division again and put ourselves in a good position for states,” Ballay said. “We had a couple years where we won it outright, but last year we ended up tied with a couple of other teams, so we felt like we were in a position to do it, but didn’t finish it off.”

The Florence coach also explained that he will look to avenge his squad’s history of coming up just short in the sectional playoffs as well.

“We have had a tough time getting out of the second round, but this year we have a pretty special group, so our goal is to get out of that second round and push for a sectional title,” Ballay said.

With a healthy number of returning upperclassmen this year, Ballay said he felt his team is in a good position to potentially reach new heights.

The coach pointed out that the team is already led by multiple upperclassmen such as four-year starters, goalkeeper Antonio Carnivale and center back Nick Yurcho. Ballay also said that forward Kevin Krall and midfielder Cory Tindall are prepared to pace the offense this year.

Described as a “rock” on defense by Ballay, Yurcho has held down the fort for the Flashes’ back line while Tindall helped lead the offense last year with 15 goals and six assists.

“Our defense has been strong, and they are very experienced,” Ballay said. “Our goalkeeper is also strong as well as our center backs and our outside backs have stepped up this year, and our midfield has always been real good.”

Although the Florence coach explained the strong depth of his squad throughout the pitch, the one area of improvement he felt could improve is attacking.

Ballay said that while his quality midfielders and outside backs help create opportunities moving up the pitch, execution in the attacking zone will be crucial going forward this season.

“Where we have fallen short every now and then is finishing at the attacking third,” he said. “We are able to get the ball up, but in order to create real dangerous opportunities, we have to finish them. That was our challenge last year, but we have worked a lot on it in the preseason up until now. We have seen that improving as we go along, so if we can keep that clicking, we will be real dangerous going forward.”

With a focus on growth among an experienced squad, Florence is already poised to have another successful year, which Ballay said he is looking forward to.

“It’s going to be exciting to see what they can accomplish, because we know we have a ton of potential,” the coach said. “These guys are motivated to maximize their potential, and they are going to work for it. The process is going to be enjoyable because I know they are willing to come out and work every day.”

Florence’s next game is scheduled for a Sept. 23 at Maple Shade High School. Starting time is set for 3:45 p.m.