Oct. 21, 2014, Boys Soccer

Oct. 21, 2014, Boys Soccer
The Steinert seniors and their parents line the field for Senior Day today (Photo by Mike Dill/see photos at
Watkins paces ND past Steinert but Spartans still win Valley Division title
Tony Piscotta
Oct. 21: The Steinert boys soccer team
dominated the majority of today's game with Notre
Dame when it came to possessing the ball and
keeping Notre Dame leading scorer Brian
Hawkins contained.
Except for two brief instances.
Those instances made all the difference as the
Fighting Irish scored twice in the first half and
then withstood steady pressure from the Spartans
in the final 30 minutes to win 2-1 on Steinert’s
Senior Day.
Despite the loss, Steinert still became Valley
Division champs of the Colonial Valley
Conference by day’s end, as Princeton defeated
Hightstown to give the Spartans the crown.
But they backed in thanks to Hawkins, who
scored once and assisted on the Irish's second Chance Eggert gets the ball away from Notre Dame today
goal. Senior goalie Steven Robak stopped seven (Photo by Nancy Eggert).
shots in net for Notre Dame to earn the victory. The Spartans out-shot Notre Dame, 21-9 and had all
six of the game's corner kick opportunities but scored their only goal on an Adrian Strama penalty kick.
The unsung hero for the Fighting Irish was midfielder Brian Reilly — who was responsible for setting
up Hawkins’ goal with a long ball from his own side of the midfield stripe — and was generally a thorn
in the Spartans' side most of the day.
"With Hawkins up there you've got to worry about him and then you have another guy that's going to
the outside," said Steinert senior defender Mike Fornaro. "Reilly created a lot but they really didn't
have many chances going forward. We really made two mental mistakes. That's all it was."
Steinert had the game's first six shots, and seemed to be controlling the play, when the first of those
miscues occurred in the game's 14th minute.
"I thought we came out really strong the first 10, 15 minutes," said senior Brandon Rivera. "We started
to die out after that. We took it to them in the second half. That's all we could ask for."
Reilly, hit a long ball from in front of the Spartans bench on the defensive side of the field into the
penalty area where Coby St. Phard ran down the ball and hit a cross into the crease where Hawkins
jumped into space to finish the play; scoring his 21st goal of the year.
"That goal should have never happened," said Steinert coach Todd Jacobs. "We had plenty of
opportunities. Never should a ball have been played across the box. We left (Daniel Fayardo) wide
open in front of the box. Hawkins just came in from behind so it was either one of them. He's a quick,
crafty player."
Fornaro felt that in trying to shut down Hawkins the Spartans may have hurt their own defensive form.
"I think our problem today
was we tried to stick a guy
on him and follow him
around." Fornaro said. "It
didn't really work. It kind of
threw our back line out of
whack. And on that goal
when we were coming
across the back line we
didn't have a guy — we had
a left mid marking him
instead of what would have
usually been our left back.
But our left back was
marking someone else
across the field. That's not
how we usually want to play
and it tore our back line out
of what we usually do."
The Irish scored what would
prove to be the gamewinning goal with 5:59 left in
the first half off a re-start
from 40 yards out when
Hawkins hit a ball into the
area and junior Derek
Czerniak was there to finish.
Mike Fornaro tries to maneuver the ball away from Notre Dame's Ryan Blair (Photo by
Nancy Eggert).
"We had one guy come off a
man to go in the wall and left
a man open," said Fornaro.
"That's how the second goal went in."
The Spartans continued to apply pressure, recording 13 shots in the first half, but each time the ball
was either wide or Robak was there to make the stop.
Steinert had an excellent chance to cut the lead in half with Strama lined up for a re-start from 35
yards out in front of the net with 15 seconds left in the half. But Robak saw the ball all the way and
made the sixth of his six first half saves to keep Steinert off the board.
"Notre Dame is a tough team to figure out," Jacobs said. "I felt like we had the better of the play for
most of the game. The second half we definitely had the better of play and we had some opportunities
to get there."
The Fighting Irish seemed more content to defend and protect the lead in the second half and for a
time it looked like that strategy might not work.
Fornaro went down inside the penalty area in the 53rd minute and Strama, after re-tying his shoes,
drilled a ball high into the right side of the net for the PK goal. It was his second in as many games.
"I think if I didn't have the ball under control it wouldn't have been a foul," Fornaro said of the play. "But
the way I had the ball I had one touch on a shot so when I got fouled it had to be a PK no matter
Despite dominating the rest of the game, the Spartans were unable to get that one finish past Robak.
"That gave us a lot of motivation going forward that first goal that we got," said Rivera, who along with
fellow senior Joe Helmlinger and junior Anthony Remboski had several opportunities. "We were still in
the game and that's what really pushed us."
The Fighting Irish, with senior Keegan Lago anchoring the back line, would not buckle.
"They're a good team," said Fornaro, when asked about the defending Mercer County Tournament
champs. "They have a lot of experience on that team. They played in a lot of tight games this year
because everybody's coming out and trying to beat them. I'm sure they're used to it. They're used to
the pressure and they responded well to our pressure."
Jacobs feels that things could have easily gone the other way.
"In the end, we bury a couple of those shots, I think we had some open looks, we're maybe winning
this game by two goals," said the Spartans coach. "We had plenty of opportunities once again. We just
have to find a way to get these shots on goal. If we do that we might have saw a different Notre
While the loss was a tough way to finish their regular season for the 11 Steinert seniors, particularly on
Senior Day, the fact that they went toe-to-toe with the Fighting Irish (12-3-1) is a good sign heading
into the Mercer County and Central Jersey Group 3 tournaments.
"A little bad luck and sometimes we weren't getting there but overall we were getting a lot of chances,"
said Rivera, who is already looking focused to Saturday's MCT opener against Nottingham.
"We're looking forward to Saturday's game," said the senior attacker. "We're going to come out strong
and we're going to get that win.
Fornaro said that with all of the work his team put in in the off-season this group is close knit and
ready to take on the upcoming challenges.
"I wouldn't say it takes pressure off us because we felt we should have won this game and it's
disappointing fur us," he said, when asked what effect today's game would have. "We need to go out
and we want to win the state tournament. We want to win the county tournament. We're not hiding
that. That's our goal. Everyone's just really dedicated this season. We know we have a chance and
we're doing some stuff to win."
Nottingham suffers another one-goal loss
It’s just like a bad Groundhog Day movie for Nottingham.
The Northstars dropped their seventh one-goal game of the season, falling at West WindsorPlainsboro North 1-0 on goal by Chris St. Amour.
Liam Nouvel and Jacob Page each split four saves in goal for the Northstars (3-11). WWPN moved to
Hornets fall to Trenton
Hamilton got goals from David “DD” Denot and David Kline but it wasn’t enough as the Hornets
suffered their sixth straight loss, 4-2, at Trenton.
Hamilton (3-12) is back in action Friday with a 3:30 Mercer County Tournament game at Princeton.
Trenton improved to 6-7-1.