The common saying is that a tie is better than a loss, and in the case of the Delsea Regional High School boys’ soccer team, that especially holds true.
Through nine games entering Tuesday, the Crusaders went to extra time in four of those contests. Delsea is 0-1-3 in those games, but boasts an impressive 4-2-3 overall record against some top-notch programs.
It’s quite obvious the Crusaders would take their current record over being 4-5.
“It’s playing good competition, is what I think,” Delsea coach Tom Freeman said of his team’s record.
The Crusaders have draws against Egg Harbor Township and Lawrence in nonleague games, and another with Tri-County Conference Royal Division rival Clearview so far. Delsea’s lone overtime loss came to unbeaten West Deptford, 2-1, on Sept. 25.
Freeman, who gives Delsea a tough nonleague schedule, has been pleased overall with the brand of soccer his team has played.
“In the Clearview game (a 2-2 tie), I can’t stand here and say that we were the better team,” Freeman said. “I think they were very good, and to get the tie over there was a good result.
“Egg Harbor, a very underrated team, Group IV down there, first game of the year on turf, a tough game in the heat and stuff, and our guys … that game could have gone either way. Then Lawrence, you go up north and see their record is 0-4, but they’ve lost to the No. 11 team in the state, Allentown, and they’ve had a tough time getting results, but that was a good team, it was a quality side up there, and we played good that day.”
And Delsea has played well throughout the season.
The Crusaders own wins over Williamstown and Kingsway, both crucial divisional results, in addition to victories over Gloucester Catholic and the Gloucester County Institute of Technolgy.
“We’ve played a very good schedule, and I’m hoping that it definitely helps us at the end of the season, and that’s what it’s all about,” Freeman said.
St. Augustine rolling
Prior to the season, St. Augustine coach Steve Rolando was concerned about a defensive unit that lacked varsity experience.
Now a full three weeks into the 2013 campaign, the second-year coach has to be feeling a little better about his back third. The Hermits, who are an impressive 7-1 entering a key Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game today against Ocean City, have allowed just three goals in eight games, with two of them coming late in a 3-2 win over Vineland earlier this year when the Prep had several reserves on the field.
St. Augustine’s starting defense of Andrew Catalana, Alex Clark, Ben Clark and Ian Fox deserve plenty of credit, as does goalkeeper Dan Aucoin, who has posted six shutouts with the help of fellow goalkeeper Bill Birmingham, who has been sharing time with Aucoin of late.
Helping the cause is superior midfield play from the Hermits, which has alleviated much of the pressure on the team’s defense. Seniors Sean Lynch and Ryan Ward have been as advertised in the middle of the pitch for the Prep, controlling the pace of the game, and in Lynch’s case, even providing some offense. Lynch is third on the team with three goals.
And as for St. Augustine’s offense, the unit has posted 20 goals in eight games, including 12 in its last four matches.
The Vineland duo of Christian Bik and Niko Basolis, a pair of sophomore forwards, lead the way with five and four goals, respectively.
Vineland getting healthy
The Fighting Clan got a big boost Monday when senior central midfielder Amandeep Singh returned to the lineup after missing three games with an ankle injury.
Singh didn’t factor into the 2-0 win over Oakcrest on the score sheet, but he made an impact in other ways.
“Just his presence out there makes a huge difference for us,” Vineland coach Eric Spinnato said. “He does so many things for our team, and just the confidence he brings our other guys is amazing. We’re glad to have him back, though I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent yet.”
Neither is junior forward Steven Tobolski, who suffered a thigh contusion in Vineland’s 1-1 draw against Millville on Sept. 23. The injury hasn’t slowed Tobolski too much — he has two goals in his last three games and six on the season.
“I’d say he’s at about 70 percent,” Spinnato said of Tobolski. “What he’s able to do is just incredible.”
Area Power Rankings *
⬛ 1. St. Augustine (7-1) — Lone Prep loss came 1-0 to Bensalem (Pa.) on Sept. 25.
⬛ 2. Vineland (5-2-1) — The Fighting Clan have losses to St. Augustine and Ocean City in CAL American play.
⬛ 3. Delsea (4-2-3) — Delsea rebounded from a tough loss to West Deptford with a big win over Williamstown.
⬛ 4. Millville (4-4-2) — The Bolts had not won a game since Sept. 18 against Bridgeton entering Tuesday’s date with Buena.
⬛ 5. Buena (8-0-1) — The Chiefs have absolutely dominated their CAL National competition so far.
* Records through play on Monday