It took until overtime to decided a boys’ soccer game between rivals Bordentown Regional High School and Northern Burlington County Regional High School on Sept. 20 in Columbus.
Northern Burlington’s Austin Lovenduski settled the scoreless tie with a goal off a deflected shot in front of net.
The host team prevailed in OT when defender Jack Burke placed a ball into the box that winger Trevor Owens attempted to stow away, but when his shot was deflected, it found the feet of Lovenduski.
Already positioned in front of goal, Lovenduski tucked the ball in for the game-winning shot.
“Burke went down, crossed [the ball] in, and [Owens] took a shot that deflected to me, and I just did the rest,” Lovenduski said of his winning goal.
As of Sept. 23, the victory moved Northern Burlington to a 5-3 record while Bordentown stood at 3-3-1.
During the first half, Northern Burlington maintained possession of the ball for much of the play. Although the host school put Bordentown under pressure during the half, the Scotties’ defense snuffed out multiple scoring chances thanks to the efforts of center back Aiden Amankwah and goalie Charlie Revy.
The Scotties called upon Amankwah’s defensive efforts going into the second half as he held down the back line to fight off multiple through-balls and crosses from Northern Burlington.
With 15 minutes to go in the closing half, Bordentown’s Revy shut down two key scoring chances, which included a header toward goal as well as a shot placed to the top corner of the net.
With a full body extension from Revy, the Bordentown keeper nabbed the shot and denied what was Northern Burlington’s most promising chance to win the game in regulation.
Lovenduski’s game-winning goal proved to be what has become an early season trend for Northern Burlington. Since the squad suffered a 4-1 defeat against Delran High School on Sept. 5 to kick off the season, Lovenduski said the team has aimed to avenge the loss since to move to a winning record.
“We rebound from hard losses, and we don’t get too down about those kinds of things,” Lovenduski said. “We opened up [the season] with a loss to Delran, but we have gotten a lot closer as a team and worked harder. I feel like that’s why we are here today with a record over .500.”
Northern Burlington coach Justin Faust also explained that the team’s resilience in the face of defeat has served as motivation for better performances.
“What I like most about this team is the character that these [players] possess,” Faust said. “They are always playing for each other, and whether we are facing adversity or things are going well, the mentality is always the same for us.”
Moving forward from the Bordentown victory, the Northern Burlington coach pointed out that his team can still improve in more areas.
“We need to be more decisive in the final third – definitely something we are working on. We have the skill,” he said. “We have a ton of talent up front, and I’m confident we will get that part of our game going.”
As Northern Burlington looks to maintain its winning record this season, Faust pointed to two forwards Owens and Robby Kokotajlo to lead his squad.
Owens, who has scored four goals and earned two assists this season, is already leaving a positive impression on his coach.
“[Owens’] effort on the wing – he has an absolute endless motor,” Faust said. “He has always had the skill in our program to do it. What I think has improved his game for his senior year is actually simplifying his game and then, picking his moments of creativity.”
While the Northern Burlington coach aims to see Owens carry out his successful efforts, he said he hopes the talents of Kokotajlo will soon come forward, too.
“As a forward, [Kokotajlo] has everything,” Faust said. “He can break the lines, hold it up and finish. I keep stressing to him to have the confidence and keep taking these chances because they are going to start going in for him. He is one of the few forwards I have in this program that’s the total package of what you want out there.”
While Northern Burlington plans to carry its winning momentum, Bordentown will be looking to tighten up its play in face of a difficult schedule.
Although the Scotties kicked off their season with a 2-2 draw against a strong Rancocas Valley Regional High School side on Sept. 4, a 4-1 loss to Moorestown High School on Sept. 6 and a 3-0 defeat to Notre Dame High School on Sept. 14, coach Jason Zablow stated that there is more to be desired from his squad.
“We are showing in glimpses that we can play with anybody, and we have been tested early [this season],” Zablow said. “We have been wanting to test ourselves, which is where we have had our ties and losses from, but we show we can hang with [opponents]. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the result today. In moments, we outplayed [Northern Burlington], and we showed that we belong, which is promising. The next step is getting results.”
As Bordentown prepares to get their year underway, Zablow pointed to defender Amankwah as the stronghold to leading his squad through the field.
“[Amankwah] is our beast and lock in the back,” Zablow said. “He allows us to get creative with [our tactics]. It allows me to bump Cameron Schroeder up into the midfield, and he cleans up a lot of our messes. He is smart, athletic and understands the game, so he is putting everyone in situations to succeed.”
Seeing some more varsity action this year, junior goalie Revy may also be a force for Bordentown to deny opponents of more scoring opportunities, according to Zablow.
“[Revy] is super athletic,” he said. “He is kind of getting thrown in against some big teams, but he holding his own. He had one save at full extension where the ball was probably going [to the upper corner of the net]. Not many [goalies] are getting that, so that gives the team a bit of energy when he makes a play like that.”
Northern Burlington is set to face New Egypt High School away on Sept. 28. Kickoff is set for 9 a.m.
Bordentown will face Burlington Township High School away on Oct. 2 for a 3:45 p.m. game.