RUMSON – There have been some highs and some lows during the 2021 season for Coach Jeff Soares and his Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School boys soccer team.
The highs include the Bulldogs (8-4-2) winning the Shore Conference A Central Division championship; their first division crown since 2015.
The lows include the Bulldogs failing to advance past the second round of the Shore Conference Tournament.
The ups and downs are things Soares believes his players can build on and learn from as they prepare to compete in the Central Jersey Group II state sectional tournament.
“When we are ready to go, we can go up against anybody,” the coach said. “These guys have been in big games and know how to grind.”
Victories over A Central rivals Holmdel, Ocean Township, Red Bank Catholic and Monmouth Regional help the Bulldogs go 5-0-1 in division play to become champions of the league.
The Bulldogs are paced by the play of brothers Luke Pentikis and Alec Pentikis.
Alec, a junior, leads the Bulldogs with 11 goals. He has scored 27 goals in three seasons.
Luke is a senior captain who has scored six goals and leads the team with seven assists.
Junior Antonio Santos has been strong in midfield and has contributed four goals and two assists. Freshman Ronan Hogg has come onto the scene and has scored three goals.
Goalkeeper Aiden Colburn is having a strong senior campaign. Colburn, who has four years of varsity experience, has made 128 saves in 2021 while recording three shutouts.
Sophomore Liam Barnett, junior Jacob Brown and seniors Harrison Gibson and Michael Calabrese have all made contributions to the Bulldogs’ success.
Rumson-Fair Haven tallied a 5-1 victory over the Ranney School of Tinton Falls in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament on Oct. 16. The win moved the Bulldogs into a second round match on Oct. 20 at home against Wall High School of Wall Township.
Earlier in October, the Bulldogs rolled to a 5-1 victory over Wall, but it was a different story when the teams met in the conference tournament.
The Crimson Knights jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half and went out to defeat the Bulldogs, 3-0.
“It wasn’t our best outing,” Soares said. “We didn’t play well as a team. We were not mentally ready to play.”
Soares will try to schedule several matches before the Bulldogs play their first match in the state sectional tournament. The first round of the tournament will begin Nov. 1.
In a section with teams like Wall, Holmdel, South River and Voorhees, Soares knows the road to a sectional title will not be easy, but believes his squad has what it takes to be a sectional champion.
“It’s not an easy road, but I think it’s something we can go at. This is a tournament we should be able to go after and win,” he said.