RICHLAND – A combination of Justin McStay’s legs, the stellar play of goalie Tyler Marchiano and the superior defense of the Hornets made a 2-0 NJSIAA Group II state semifinal victory over Delran possible on Tuesday night at St. Augustine Prep.
“We just wanted to make sure that we attacked down the flanks a little bit and give Justin McStay some space to work and get him in some one versus one situations,” Holmdel coach John Nacarlo said. “They were looking to double him especially after the first goal. And we wanted him to attack the left side and that’s when his second goal came. He played fabulously.”
McStay tallied in the 14 th minute and the 59 th minute to secure Holmdel’s place in the NJSIAA Group II state final at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 22 at Kean University against Pascack Hills/Garfield winner.
But what’s been overlooked through Holmdel’s NJSIAA state tournament run is the play of the defense and goalie Tyler Marchiano, who made 11 saves against 12 Delran shots.
“The biggest thing here for us is how our defense is playing. Our defense has really stepped up,” Nacarlo said. “We haven’t allowed a goal in the last four games and they are just playing well as a unit. And Tyler Marchiano, you can’t ask for a better keeper than him.”
Delran put seven of its 12 shots on goal in the first half but the Holmdel defense either blocked a shot opportunity or Marchiano made the save to preserve the shutout. The Hornets are playing their best soccer of the season right now because Nacarlo credits the shakeup he made after the team’s Shore Conference Tournament loss.
“I honestly think the turning point of the season was a 6-0 loss we had to Toms River North in the Shore Conference Tournament. We changed our formation after that. We changed some personnel,” Nacarlo said. “We got a little younger after that but it was something that I felt was important for us because we had to find a different way to play against better teams.”
Now, Holmdel (13-6-5) has several days to prepare for the biggest game of the season, the Group II state final on Nov. 22 at Kean University.
“We played in the state final in 2010, 2011 and 2012,” Nacarlo said. “We last won the state title in 2010.”
IN GIRLS SOCCER
Holmdel 2, Point Boro 1: The Hornets (16-6-1) got goals from Hannah Lee in the 22nd minute and Gabby Bair in the 46th minute to go up 2-0 on the Panthers (19-3-1) in the all-Shore Conference Group II state semifinals. Point Boro’s Devon Wondolowski tallied in the 71st minute to cut the deficit to 2-1 but the Hornets held on for the victory.
Holmdel’s Mattie Milkowski made five saves and Point Boro used goalies Amy Zalesky (three saves) and Jackie Kluxen (two saves).
Holmdel will play Ramapo at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 for the Group II state final at Kean University.
Sherlon Christie: firstname.lastname@example.org