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VIDEO, PHOTO GALLERY: Casterline helps Middle take control of CAL United

Lower Cape May's Andrew Weber wins a header in front of Middle Township's Austin Carr.


CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Will Casterline’s first varsity goal came at a perfect time for the Middle Township High School boys soccer team.

Casterline’s tally off a perfectly placed long-distance shot midway through the first half stood up as the game’s only tally as Middle Township beat Lower Cape May, 1-0, under the lights at the Boyd Street Field Wednesday evening.

The win places Middle (6-1-1 overall) in firm control of first place in the Cape-Atlantic United Conference.

Middle and Lower (4-2-1 overall) played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 7 in the first game of the season for both teams. Wednesday’s result moved Middle to 4-0-1 in conference games, while Lower fell to 3-1-1 in the conference.

“It’s an awesome win for us,” Middle coach Scott Kurkowski said. “I think the celebration at the end says it all. Our kids had this game circled since that first match ended up in a draw. We knew this would be a battle, just like the first time. Both teams gave everything they had. We were fortunate to get a chance to go in.”

Casterline, a junior holding midfielder who doesn’t get a ton of offensive chances, received a short pass from teammate Steve Berrodin and sent a perfect shot toward goal from 25 yards out. His effort nicked the hands of leaping Lower Cape May goalkeeper Anderson Ryan and fell just under the crossbar and into the goal.

“I’m so happy for Will to get that,” Kurkowski said. “We want him to look at goal a little more and he did it there.”

Lower Cape May did not go away quietly. The Tigers grew into the game as it progressed and created a few good chances of their own. Their best came late in the first half when Miguel Valencia created space on the left flank and blasted a shot that just missed the far right post.

“I definitely feel like we played well enough to get a result out of this,” Lower coach Dennis Elia said. “The first 20 minutes, we were a little starstruck. Middle owned the first 20 minutes. But then I thought we came on late in the first half and in the second half I think we had the better of the play. I definitely felt like we could’ve gotten a result out of this.

“We have to have more of a sense of urgency. We’re a little lackadaisical at times. In the beginning of the game, Middle was more hungry and more physical than us. We need to have that same sense of urgency for all 80 minutes.”

While Lower is now a longshot to win the CAL United, Elia said his team still has a lot to play for.

“Winning the division shouldn’t mean everything,” he said. “Yes, it would be nice to win it, but we want a good, deep run in the state tournament. There’s a lot left to play for.”

Middle goalkeeper Devon Bock made nine saves for the shutout.

“Devon has definitely taken a step forward,” Kurkowski said. “He has more confidence under his belt and he’s talking more and that’s making a tremendous impact on the rest of the team.”

Middle also is looking toward greater goals than winning the division title.

“We have to stick our heads down and work just like any other day,” Kurkowski said. “We have a tough stretch of games at the end of the season. We need to grab as many points as we can and at least get a home game for the state playoffs.”

  • Lower Cape May's Andrew Weber wins a header in front of Middle Township's Austin Carr.
  • Devon Azile of Lower Cape May heads the ball past Middle Township's Vinny Povio.
  • Lower Cape May's Anderson Ryan makes a saves in the first half.
  • Lower's Nick Adams and Middle's Landon Osmundsen chase a loose ball.
  • Middle Township's Austin Carr moves away from the pressure of Lower Cape May's Troy Genaro.