By TOM WILLIAMS
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – The Ocean City boys soccer team made history tonight, winning the very first Cape-Atlantic League Tournament.
Freshman John Lindsay scored both goals as Aaron Bogushefsky’s Raiders defeated St. Augustine Prep, 2-1, in the Bruce Wohlrab Memorial Complex. The Prep, ranked No. 2 in South Jersey in most polls, had beaten Ocean City, 2-0, earlier in the season.
Ocean City’s girls almost made it a clean sweep, losing to Mainland in the opener of the championship doubleheader in a penalty kick-shootout after the two teams played two scoreless halves and two scoreless overtime periods. Mainland won the shootout, 3-0.
The boys championship game was also scoreless at the half, though St. Augustine seemed to be in control. The Prep took the lead when Antonio Matos scored an unassisted goal early in the second half.
“We made some adjustments at the half,” said OCHS coach Aaron Bogushefsky, “and, except for the one lapse when they scored, I’ve rarely seen a team make adjustments so well. We reminded the kids that this team was ranked No. 2 in South Jersey and this would be their last chance to play them. So, let’s go out and beat them.”
Lindsay tied the score with a left-footed shot from about 12 yards that just go past the goalie.
“He was almost falling away,” said Bogushefsky, “but he made it happen. That was the spark that really got us going. We had a number of other opportunities and even scored, but we were called for offsides. We were taking the game away from them. They could not get anything going.”
Lindsay would score again to light the final fire.
With just a few minutes left, the Raiders played the ball forward and got behind the St. Augustine defense. Hunter Paone came down the right side and crossed the ball. The goalie came out and Lindsay headed the ball. It slowly rolled into the goal, clicking off the bottom of the post as it did.
“The crowd reaction after that goal was tremendous,” Bogushefsky said. “And, let me tell you, those last few minutes were the longest of my life.”
Ocean City had beaten Pleasantville in the semi-finals of the four-team tournament and St. Augustine had beaten Mainland in overtime.
“I like this idea of a CAL tournament,” Bogushefsky said. “In fact, I’d like to see it expanded to maybe eight teams. It would make it even more exciting and would allow some teams who thought they were good enough to be included.”
The Ocean City boys (11-4) will now play at Middle Township on Friday. If they defeat the Panthers, Lower Cape May and Cedar Creek they will clinch the CAL’s National Conference championship.
“We have a full schedule,” Bogushefsky said, “and our goal is always to be healthy at the end of the season, for the state tournament. We decided to forego the Coaches Tournament this year and focus on winning the CAL Tournament, the conference and the Group 3 Tournament.”
Kelly Halliday’s Ocean City girls (12-5-1) have had a series with Mainland reminiscent of girls basketball last winter. The Raiders lost to the Mustangs, 1-0, in September and lost again, 1-0, earlier this month in two overtimes. Then came tonight’s shootout.
Ocean City seemed to control most of the first half action, though they couldn’t get the ball past Mainland goalkeeper Lila Schoen, who made four saves. Abbey Fenton was just as impressive for the Raiders with six saves.
It was an intense defensive battle, much like the first two meetings. And, just like in the basketball season, the two teams could meet again in the upcoming Group 3 Tournament. In fact, they could also meet in the semi-finals of the Coaches Tournament if they both win their first two games.
Halliday will take her team to Mount Holly on Friday for their first round game in the Coaches Tournament against Rancocas Valley. The winner will play the Eastern-Cinnaminson winner.
Wednesday night was a great night for OCHS, the only school to send both of its soccer teams to the CAL Tournament finals. And both teams played intense soccer, coming very close to sweeping the two titles.