By season’s end, the Delsea Regional High School boys’ soccer team might be the most fit group in South Jersey.
The Crusaders went to overtime for the fourth time in eight games to open the year Wednesday, though their latest appearance didn’t end favorably. Delsea’s bid to knock West Deptford from the unbeaten ranks in a nonleague game ended in a 2-1 loss just past the midway point of the first 10-minute extra session.
Pete Tachdjian started a transition play out of the defensive third for West Deptford, sending a ball down the left wing to Kevin Keane, who sent a cross backpost to Jake Warlow for the tap-in, game-winning tally. It was a disappointing end for a Delsea (3-2-3) team that carried play throughout the second half following Chris Zeck’s equalizer in the 58th minute off a feed from midfielder Christian Cortese.
“They got a break,” Delsea senior defender Louis Moffa said. “We were pressuring and they countered us. We were pressing high trying to get the goal first because it’s sudden death and they put one in behind us, and they scored.”
West Deptford (7-0) struck first just out of halftime when Zach Peterson collected a rebound off a Gary Simmons shot and fired it past a helpless Nick Henry in the 42nd minute for a 1-0 Eagles advantage.
Henry, who finished with eight saves, made a great read on Simmons’ shot, but was left well out of position for Peterson’s attempt, which came from just above the penalty mark.
Delsea rebounded quickly thanks to the high-energy play of senior midfielder Matt Pastore, who had back-to-back chances in the 51st and 53rd minutes. Pastore’s first attempt came when he snuck behind a West Deptford defender to receive a through ball, but Eagles goalkeeper Perry Corsetti made a diving stop to his right to snare the shot.
Moments later, Pastore found himself alone at the top of the 18-yard line, and, after taking a touch, fired a shot just over the crossbar.
The plays pulled the momentum in Delsea’s favor for the remainder of the half, and the Crusaders cashed in when Cortese drove the right endline, beating his defender, before sliding the ball to Zeck, who beat Corsetti (six saves) one-on-one with a shot in the bottom-left corner of the goal.
“We played well, knocked the ball around and they did too,” Delsea coach Tom Freeman said. “They looked to pass first, were running off the ball and did some good things.
“Even when they weren’t being dangerous, they were doing some good things at midfield that we were able to pick off, and then we were able to go forward and do some good things. Our final third wasn’t great, obviously when you only have one goal, but it’s something we can work on in practice.”
Delsea produced a corner kick in overtime, which represented the first real threat during extra play, but West Deptford had little issue managing a clearance.
Following some back-and-forth play in the midfield, the Eagles finally broke through with the decisive counter attack.
This is Delsea’s first loss in overtime. The Crusaders managed draws in each of their three previous games that couldn’t be decided in regulation.
“I credit them, they know how to win,” Freeman said of West Deptford.
“That’s why they’re undefeated, they find ways to win, find ways to get results. Right now, we’re still figuring it out.”
Delsea has shown very well against some stiff competition this year, and the Crusaders would have loved to be the team to hand the Eagles their first defeat.
“It’s very frustrating, especially because we did play so well,” Moffa said. “It would have been nice to put another win on our record, but it didn’t happen. It’s just really frustrating.”