Jackson Memorial is playing its best soccer at the right time with the Shore Conference Tournament in the near future. The Jaguars, No. 1 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, continued their undefeated season by defeating No. 7 Toms River East 2-1 on Thursday in a Shore Conference Class A South game.
Anthony Mandola scored the game winner in the 47th minute off a cross from Oscar Rojas. The Jaguars (15-0, 13-0) controlled most of the game out shooting the Raiders (8-3-2, 8-3-2) 15-7. Mandola one-timed the cross from Rojas into the lower left corner.
“The play was scrappy to begin with, but my guy Oscar was able to get the cross in,” Mandola said. “The defender wasn’t expecting the ball to get in, and I was able to just get a nice flick on it.”
Fifteen consecutive wins is no easy task for any team in the Shore Conference and for Mandola and his teammates its about keeping the pace they have had all season.
“We are at a point where we want to be as a team,” Mandola said. “Our goal is to just keep up what we are doing as the season goes on.”
After clinching the Class A South title earlier in the week, there was no lack of effort from the Jaguars in this game and the result can only help them heading into the Shore Conference Tournament.
“This is a huge confidence boost for us today, East is a good team,” Mandola said. “We know we have to come together as a team in the future and I think we proved that we can do that here today.”
Jaguars coach Steve Bado saw his team come out and play hard.
“There were some question marks about our team today,” Bado said. “We had already clinched, and Toms River East has had our number in the past years.”
All those questions were answered on Thursday when the final whistle was blown. Matthew Fryc scored in the third minute to give the Jaguars a 1-0 lead.
Buddy Gibbons answered for the Raiders in the 12th minute after a PK was awarded by the referee. Gibbons calmly tucked the ball into the left corner.
“I thought we responded well after they tied the game at 1,” Bado said. “We have responded a couple of times this season after we have let in some goals.”
Bado credits the maturity of this team being able to respond after conceding goals this season.
“We have some three- or four-year players on our team who have been through a lot,” Bado said. “I knew we were going to be competitive this year and we are off to a fast start.”
Bado’s next task ill be keeping his team focused heading into the SCT. It will try to feed off the mind-set of its coach, who preaches hard work, day in and day out.
“I think they understand that this is a special year,” Bado said. “The kids are having fun, and we are just hoping to have the best season we can.”
Chris Parker: email@example.com