Jackson Memorial and Toms River North played to a 0-0 draw on Thursday, with both sides showing their strength on their defensive third of the field.
Jackson Memorial head coach Steve Bado has watched his team step up early in the season after losing 14 seniors.
“We came out and we fought hard, North is always well coached, the game could have went either way, and a draw is a good result for both teams,” Bado said.
Last season the Jaguars cruised to the Class A South division title, remaining undefeated in division play. A repeat for the division will be more of a challenge for Bado and his squad, but the Jaguars depth is something that Bado will rely on this season.
“We had a really good JV and freshman team last season, so these guys are ready to step up to the big stage,” Bado said.
After a scoreless 80 minutes of soccer, the Jaguars came out in the first overtime period and created several scoring chances. Toms River North keeper Brian Brannagan answered the call however, keeping a clean sheet for the Mariners.
“I was very happy with my team for keeping their composure in overtime,” Bado said.
“We have a young team at the varsity level against one of the top teams in the Shore Conference, and they had a couple of great chances that just didn’t fall our way.”
Jackson Memorial senior keeper Devyn Josko also recorded a shutout with seven saves.
Along with Bado, Toms River North head coach Joe Mahon was happy with the way his team battled for the full 100 minutes.
“I liked the grind and the fight that we had today, but also I think we struggled to string some passes together today,” Mahon said.
“The guys played hard and to come to Jackson and get a result, is not really something I can be mad at.”
The Mariners knew coming into the game that they would have to shut down senior midfielder Garrett Muzikowski, and for the most part they were able to do just that, trying to keep the ball off his left foot.
“He is a good player, and can serve up some good balls for them,” Mahon said.
“They get rid of the ball quickly from the back, and are very dangerous on the counter.”
The one thing Mahon will take away from the draw is that his players need to be more patient with each other through out the game.
“Today was a struggle, and we were able to grind out a result,” Mahon said.
“We are focused on trying to get better every game, if we can continue to work on practice, hopefully we can start to peak at the right time.”