Injuries have unfortunately been the story this season for Holmdel, which played host to Shore Conference foe Raritan in an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II quarterfinal game on Friday. Losing Jason Kyriacou and Gino D’Agostino, the top two strikers for the Hornets, has taken a toll on the offensive side of the ball late in the year.
Holmdel sophomore Hunter Chapman changed all that in the first half, scoring the first goal of the game and leading the Hornets to a 2-0 win over the Rockets.
After going scoreless in their last two games, it was the sophomore that seemed to take the weight of the Hornets on his shoulders in the 23rd minute. Just last year Hunter Chapman, then a freshman, watched his older brother Dylan lead the Hornets to the Group II state finals in his senior year. Dylan Chapman received first team All-Shore honors for the Asbury Park Press last year, and was a rock for Holmdel head coach John Nacarlo at the sweeper position.
“Those are some big shoes to fill,” Chapman said with a grin.
“I just hope this season that we can take it as far as he was able to lead them last season.”
Chapman spent most of the season with the junior varsity team, and played in his first varsity game just one week ago. His play has been a welcomed surprise for Nacarlo, who continues to see his depth get the job done when it counts the most.
“I was able to get another player to step up for us this game,” Nacarlo said.
“It was awesome.”
Chapman’s first varsity goal will likely be one that he never forgets, collecting the ball and putting a shot on frame that was definitely of the varsity level. Senior midfielder Jack Flanagan beat a few players and distributed the ball to Chapman just outside the 18.
“It was a feeling that I’ve never felt before, definitely a moment that I will never forget,” Chapman said.
“Flanagan played a good ball into me, I just cut it back and put it far post.”
Holmdel controlled most of the game in the first half, but the second half was a different story, as the Rockets almost found the back of the net. Their best chance came in the 53rd minute after Barry O’Sullivan played a cross to Cassidy Tripolitis, who hit the post after a diving attempt on goal.
The Hornets defense, led by Connor Shields in the back, was good enough to get the shut out behind keeper Tyler Marchiano.
“They had a couple scary moments in the second half with some of their crosses,” Nacarlo said.
“Defensively I think we held true, it has been one of our strengths this year, and we are going to have to feed off that moving forward.”
According to Nacarlo, the Hornets will be getting forward D’Agostino back in the lineup for the semifinal game on Tuesday. Getting back one of their top strikers will be key if the Hornets are to make another run to the finals this season.
“We have to come out like we did today, and continue to be resilient,” Nacarlo said.
Holmdel will host Delran in a Central Jersey Group II semifinal game on Tuesday at 2 p.m.