Soccer is known to be a game of inches at times, and Rumson-Fair Haven found out first hand how cruel of a game it can be in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II final on Friday.
The Bulldogs fell to Delran 1-0, after a play in the first two minutes of the start of the second half dramatically swung momentum from one side to another. The Bulldogs’ Matt Dell rocked the cross bar with a header, but it was the counter attack off that same play that would prove costly for Rumson-Fair Haven.
Delran collected the ball quickly after the near score from Dell, as junior forward Ryan Ferreira dribbled up the right side of the field. The Bulldogs were caught on a 2 on 1 break, and Delran would not miss their chance as Ferreira slipped the ball to Thomas Talyor who found the back of the net in the 42nd minute of the game.
It was the only goal of the game, as Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Will Gould watched his team create several chances early in the first half, but none finding the back of the net.
“We threw everything we had at them early, we were knocking on the door the first 20 minutes of the game,” Gould said.
“Unfortunately we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Tactically the Bulldogs switched from their 4-4-2 formation to a 3-4-3, hoping to create one final chance to tie the game with 15 minutes left. The Bulldogs had that chance with about two minutes left in regulation with a scramble in the box, but were called for a foul on the Delran keeper.
“It’s a heart breaker, these kids are really great players,” Gould said.
“This team is the best team I’ve coached in my career, its hard to take the loss but I give Delran a lot of credit they played their tails off.”
Eamon Kitson was among the 17 seniors dressed in their last game for the Bulldogs on Friday. He knew they were in for a physical game from the start. Although they were hit hard with the loss, for Kitson it means nothing compared to how much he has enjoyed playing with his team over the years.
“I’ve been playing with most of these kids since I was in fourth grade,” Kitson said.
“We are like a family, winning and losing together its sucks and its great at the same time.”
Along with making it to the Shore Conference Tournament final, the Bulldogs also made it to their first state sectional final in school history.
“It’s really tough to lose both of those, but we can at least say that we were the first team to get there,” Kitson said.
Kitson will be joining teammate Chris Tierney next fall at the University of Vermont, as both will be continuing their soccer careers on the collegiate level.
“I’m excited,” Kitson said.
“It should be bigger and better things moving forward, and I’m just going to try and keep improving.”