The Crimson Knights started strong and never looked back in the opening-round NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III game on Tuesday. No. 7 Wall held on for a 2-1 win over No. 11 Red Bank sending the Crimson Knights through to the second round of the state tournament.
Wall head coach Garry Linstra watched his team take advantage of some lack of communication on the defensive side of the Bucs early in the game. Red Banks high back line was exposed, giving the Crimson Knights several attempts on net in the first ten minutes of regulation.
“We made some good runs early in the game,” Linstra said.
“Our center mids held the ball and we just made some good runs out of the back and created some chances.”
The offside trap is an effective tool when executed correctly, as the Bucs showed in their first round Shore Conference win over Howell. However, today the Crimson Knights were able to time their runs perfectly and get open shots on Red Bank keeper Luis Aguirre.
“You live or die by the offside trap, and I thought we caught them a couple times today,” Linstra said.
“Their goalie was brilliant today, and really kept them in the game.”
Aguirre finished the day with a total of 16 saves, but could not stop the Crimson Knights’ Connor Fry in the 34th minute. After taking a 1-0 lead into the half, Wall captain Chris Barcas found the back of the net seven minutes into the second half for the 2-0 lead.
“I got a good through ball and just took a touch past one of the center backs,” Barcas said.
“We had another forward kind of make a diversion run, and I was just able to find some room and finish it in the lower left corner.”
Finishing goals was a problem for the Crimson Knights early in the season, completing the regular season with 6 draws.
“Today we really just came out firing, we made some good runs early but just weren’t able to finish,” Barcas said.
“We weren’t scoring very much early in the year, and we don’t want to have that again, so it’s definitely something we will be working on.”
Wall rebounded nicely after falling to Rumson in the Shore Conference Tournament, a game that Linstra and his team used for motivation today.
“I told the guys to remember how this feels,” Linstra said.
“I think it really affected us, we know how we have to play now, and hopefully we can carry that momentum through out this state tournament.”
The sixth-seeded Crimson Knights will face fellow Shore Conference foe No. 3 Ocean on Friday. After a strong defensive effort from Wall in the first half Red Bank’s Justin Gilson scored in the 55th minute.
“I thought we got a little sloppy in the back towards the end of the game,” Linstra said.
“We just have to be patient and continue to make runs, and we will work on those things and be ready for the next round.”