first_imgBy WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Matawan Regional High School’s boys’ soccer team, which was one of the most dangerous scoring teams with its sheer team speed a year ago when it won its first Shore Conference A North Division title, has to find ways to get the ball in the back of the net these days if it wants to return to the Shore Conference and NJSIAA tournaments.Only three starters graduated, but fleetfooted Alex Cella, who has been scoring goals at Brookdale Community College, and Matt Isaacson, son of new head coach Tyler Isaacson and who is off to a college career in the pole vault for Monmouth University’s track and field team, carried much of the scoring load last season.This season, the Huskies have scored only seven goals in their last nine games and, at 4-5-3, need at least two wins in their next three games before this weekend’s cutoff. Matawan has scored two or more goals in a game only three times this season.Monmouth Regional High School dealt Matawan a setback in its tournament bids Oct. 9 when it pulled out a 1-0 victory on a goal about midway through the first half. Matawan had beaten Monmouth Regional, 4-1, amid a 3-0 start to the season, but it was only the third time the low-scoring Huskies have been shut out.“Goals have been hard to come by,” coach Isaacson said. “It’s a couple of things. We’ve had unlucky breaks, but that evens up over the season. And we’ve had a lot of opportunities, but it’s creating more opportunities in the box. Sometimes they tend to make the extra pass at times when they need to be selfish and take the shot.”The Huskies host Manasquan High School (7-5-1) Oct. 17. Manasquan defeated Matawan, 2-0, earlier in the season. The Huskies need a win to make the Shore Conference Tournament. A loss or tie would fall short of qualifying.“Making the Shore Conference Tournament is more difficult,” Isaacson said.The coach pointed out teams must be .500 or better by the cutoff, whereas the NJSIAA goes by power points. Isaacson said the Huskies had been seeded No. 10 out of 20 teams in the state bracket as of late last week. The top 16 teams reach the state tournament.“We’re in a real good position for states,” the coach said.Each of the tournaments presents a different type of challenge.“In the Shore Conference, you can be playing Group III and Group IV schools, and we’re a Group II,” Isaacson said. “In the states, you’re competing on a more level playing field against schools your size. This is a marathon where you want to be peaking at the right time and want everybody healthy at the end of the season.”Isaacson also feels assured if the Huskies make the Shore Conference Tournament. “I like our chances there to win a few games and give teams trouble and be competitive,” Isaacson said.Matawan hopes to have senior midfielder Brandon Dhume back at full strength from a strained back. Dhume leads the Huskies with five goals, matching his total from last season.Isaacson, who draws on a wealth of experience as a player that included a college career at Rutgers University and in various levels of coaching, came into this season realizing this team would fall back on its defense, playing only three defenders in a 3-5-2 configuration to stay competitive. Colin Thompson, one of only three seniors in the starting lineup, also is back in the nets.“We’ve allowed the least number of goals in our division with a core group [on defense] going back to last year. We haven’t given up many shots,” said Isaacson, who points to senior Amil Muminovic and juniors Kaleb Mehari and Tyler Chin on the back line.Chin headed in a cross for the goal in a 1-0 victory over Long Branch High School that Isaacson regards as the Huskies’ best victory so far.“Muminovic has done an outstanding job as an outside back anchoring our defense,” Isaacson said of the converted midfielder. “He’s really helped us solidify things there. He’s a hard worker who has played almost every minute.”With the lack of a big scoring punch, Isaacson relies on a possession game with five midfielders to get the ball to forwards John Vail, a junior, and Bob Johns, a sophomore. Along with Dhume and junior Jacob Labinger, the other three starters in the midfield are varsity newcomers: juniors Tyler Walling and Charlie Costello and sophomore Griffin Heyward.“We’re young, but many of the guys played a lot of minutes last year,” Isaacson said.Junior midfielders Liam Nappi and Anthony Quattrocchi and sophomore defender Matthew Weisburg have rotated into the Huskies’ lineup for significant minutes on the pitch.last_img

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