By BRIAN CUNNIFF
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Middle Township High School boys soccer team controlled the flow of play in Saturday’s game against Lower Cape May.
The Caper Tigers, however, controlled the scoreboard at the close of the 80 minutes.
Jordan Pierce pounced on a deflection after a shot by teammate Miguel Valencia and hit the back of the net less than seven minutes from full time as Lower Cape May stunned its biggest rival, 1-0, in the contest played in front of a large, but socially distant, crowd at the Boyd Street Field.
“To beat Middle on their field, this is huge for our program,” Lower coach Dennis Elia said. “This was our first big test, and our guys really showed up. But at the same time, we won the game, but I still don’t think we’ve played to our full potential. We could have some big things happen for this team if we do.”
Middle out-shot Lower by a nearly two-to-one margin, generating 20 shots to Lower’s 11.
“It’s been a struggle. We’re just missing out on our opportunities,” Middle coach Matt Gilbert said. “I tell the kids all the time, you have to capitalize or it’ll come back to get you that’s what happened. I feel like we had the better of the play but it doesn’t always go that way. Give Lower credit. They’re scrappy and they did what they had to do to beat us on our field.
“Our style of play, I’m very pleased. We’re possessing the ball and we have some skill. For the most part our playing style and our possession are fine. The problem is getting on from there and figuring out a way to finish.”
Elia credited his team’s defenders in keeping Lower in the game, leading to a chance to win it late. Anderson Ryan made 16 saves in goal.
“Middle had the better of the play, especially in the first half. They definitely had more chances and more possession,” Elia said. “But Anderson Ryan had a couple of really key saves, Taj Turner and Nick Adams stepped up in the back with some really good one-on-one efforts and Deron (Azile) had a couple good plays on the outside.
“They didn’t get a lot of really dangerous shots at our keeper. We really contested a lot of shots.”