It was a quick strike and solid defensive effort that led Wall to an important Shore Conference Class B North win over Long Branch, 1-0, on Tuesday at Ippolito Field at Bresset Stadium.
Senior striker Chris Barcas scored in the fifth minute off a give-and-go with sophomore Gerardo Medina in what would prove to be the only goal of the game.
There was a relief of sorts for Wall head coach Garry Linstra, who has grown more accustomed to watching his team play 100 minutes of soccer rather than the normal 80 minutes of regulation.
Prior to this win, the Crimson Knights (4-1-6) had settled with four straight draws to bring their season total to six. Establishing better scoring opportunities is something that Linstra has been working on with his team, in hopes of getting more wins in division play.
“It was a good combination between both Barcas and Medina, and Barcas was able to put one away for us,” Linstra said. “We have also been working on finishing a lot, and today it worked out for us.”
With the quick score, the Crimson Knights still had the task of defending an at-times dangerous Green Wave (3-6-2) squad. Long Branch has struggled of late in division play, clearly missing one of its top offensive threats in Guillerme De Novaes, who tore his ACL in one of the final scrimmages of the summer.
Long Branch came firing out of the gate in the start of the second half, with several chances that either just went wide or were saved by Wall keeper Jack Wishart. The Green Wave finished the game with 11 shots, but Wishart was able to keep a clean sheet, finishing the game with eight saves.
“I think we played very well defensively today,” Linstra said.
“They (Long Branch) are a much better team than what their record shows, and have been struggling as of late, but I think we did a really good job of just limiting their scoring opportunities.”
Wall’s win now puts some pressure on Ocean in Class B North play after the Spartans fell to Red Bank 2-0 on Tuesday for their first divisional loss of the season.
“We needed a win today for a lot of reasons, obviously to stay in the hunt for the division, but also Shore Conference seeding and state power points,” Linstra said.
Linstra hopes this win will give his team the confidence it needs in the offensive third of the field to do some damage in the upcoming Shore Conference Tournament.
“We have to improve on our scoring,” Linstra said. “We have to continue on working to get those good opportunities, and also be able to capitalize on them when they come.”
The Shore Conference Tournament seeding meeting is Oct. 21, with first-round action starting Oct. 24.