By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr, November 14, 2021
Last week the Spartans of Ocean Township, the second seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 soccer tournament, hosted longtime rival and third seed Long Branch in the semifinals. Long Branch shocked the Spartans taking the 3-1 victory and advancing to the bracket finals.
Ocean scored the first goal of the game while junior forward Archeley Eugene scored early in the first half.
Just two minutes later, Chris Lopez, sophomore at Long Branch, tied the game. It was a tight first half with Long Branch playing aggressive defense keeping the explosive Ocean offense at check. Going into the halftime break both teams were dead even at one.
Long Branch dominated the second half offensively. Just five minutes into the half, Ocean was called for a penalty inside the box giving the Green Wave a penalty kick. Senior midfielder Eduardo Ribiero made the kick breaking the tie.
Ribiero also scored the final goal of the game which was his second, and the Wave’s second of the second half. Long Branch improved to 13-7-2 on the season.
In the goal for the Green Wave was Chris Quintanilla Lazo, junior, who had three saves.
Ocean had their season come to an end with the loss. They started the tournament with a 5-1 win over Freehold Borough, followed by a 2-1 win over Brick Memorial in the quarterfinals. The Spartans finish with a 13-6-2 record, and were 3-3 in the Shore Conference A Central division.
Long Branch entered the tournament and beat Burlington Township 4-0. In the quarterfinals it was penalty kicks that determined the winner. Ribeiro scored the game-winning kick over sixth seed Lawrence advancing the Wave to the semifinals with Ocean.
In the finals of the tournament Long Branch faced top seed Hopewell Valley. In the opening round Hopewell Valley had beat Brick Township 10-3, then 5-4 win over Colts Neck and a 2-1 victory over Steinert in the semifinals.
Hopewell Valley scored two goals in the first half taking a 2-0 lead over Long Branch at halftime. In the second half only one goal was scored by Ribeiro with an unassisted shot. The Wave lost 2-1. Lazo had nine saves in the loss for Long Branch.
Long Branch ends their season with a 13-7-2 overall record. In the A North division of the Shore Conference the Wave finished 3-4, which was fifth out of the eight teams.
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