HomeThe Atlantic-HubAtlantic-Hub SportsBulldogs rally past Raritan; clinch share of A Central soccer crown

Bulldogs rally past Raritan; clinch share of A Central soccer crown

HAZLET — In comeback fashion on Oct. 6 in Hazlet, the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School boys soccer team earned its sixth victory of the 2022 season and clinched a share of the Shore Conference A Central Division title.

On the strength of two goals and two assists from sophomore Ronan Hogg in the second half, the Bulldogs scored four unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes of play to overcome a one-goal deficit and defeat Raritan High School, 5-2.

Rumson-Fair Haven Coach Jeff Soares said it was a great victory for his players to come back and earn the victory and he credited their resiliency.

“We have been in big games all year and the guys just kept their heads up and knew (goals) were going to come,” he said. “Believing that you are still in it is the mark of a good team.”

Raritan led the Bulldogs 2-1 at halftime. Hogg began the comeback in the 49th minute when he knocked home a cross into the box from Alec Pentikis for his seventh goal of the season to even the match 2-2.

One minute later, Hogg scored again as the Bulldogs took their first lead, 3-2. It marked the second time in 2022 that Hogg has scored twice in a match.

“It feels great,” he said after the victory. “I love what we are doing (on the field) and hopefully we can keep it up.”

With Rumson-Fair Haven (6-3-1) clinging to a 3-2 lead in the 67th minute, Hogg laid the ball off to Pentikis just outside the box and the senior took a shot from 19 yards that found the net for a 4-2 lead. Pentikis has scored seven goals in 2022.

In the 77th minute, Hogg looped a perfect pass upfield that senior Antonio Santos was able to track down and send into the back of the Rockets’ net. It was Santos’ second goal of the match and the second time the Bulldogs have scored five goals in a match in 2022.

Santos has scored seven goals this season.

“We have a lot of weapons that can score,” said Pentikis. “We don’t rely on just one person and that makes it tough to defend.”

By defeating Raritan, Rumson-Fair Haven clinched a share of the Shore Conference A Central Division title with Holmdel High School and Wall High School. It is the first time since 2006-07 the Bulldogs have won a division title or been co-champions in back-to-back seasons.

Soares, in his fourth season as head coach, called it a great achievement for the program to hold a share of a division title for a second straight year.

He remembers taking over a program that was coming off a 1-14-1 season in 2018. Fast forward to 2022 and Soares has seen it turn around. Rumson-Fair Haven will be bidding to win a second consecutive state sectional tournament championship.

“When I took over the team, it was a deflated program. Now we have players who believe (the division title) is something we can win every year,” Soares said.

Raritan (5-5-1) saw senior Lucas Hutnik scored twice against the Bulldogs. In the fifth minute of the match, Hutnik scored his sixth goal of the season to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead.

After the Bulldogs tied the game in the 25th minute, Hutnik led the charge in the 29th minute as he dished a nice pass to Mike Pereira, who converted the Rockets’ second goal.

The seeds for the 2022 Shore Conference Tournament were announced on Oct. 6.

No. 7 seed Rumson-Fair Haven will host No. 26 seed Jackson Memorial in the first round.

No. 29 seed Raritan will visit No. 4 seed Freehold Township in the first round.

There are 30 teams in the tournament. First round action is scheduled to take place on Oct. 11.

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