UNION – It was a tough day for Shore Conference soccer in the NJSIAA Group finals at Kean University on Sunday. After Holmdel was shocked with a 2-1 loss in the final minutes in the Group II championship game, Toms River South also fell to Mendham 4-0 in the Group III title game.
After falling behind early 2-0, the Indians (21-4) were never able to recover, struggling to string together passes in the final third of the field.
Despite being down 2-0 at the half, Toms River South head coach Ron Laycock and company thought they would be right back in the game if they could find a quick goal in the second half.
With the way Toms River South senior forward Cameron Geerinck had been playing, it wasn’t an unreasonable thought.
Geerinck had found the back of the net for the Indians in 12 straight games leading up to the Group III final, but was unable to get one against a solid Mendham backline on Sunday.
“Credit to Mendham, we never got in the offensive flow of the game today,” Laycock said. “It wasn’t a clean game for us, we just make too many mistakes.”
The combination play was the main thing lacking that hurt the most according to Laycock, but this one loss doesn’t define the season that Toms River South was able to put together.
The Indians won the Shore Conference Class A South outright, along with a South Jersey Group III sectional title. Toms River South also got by a talented Ocean team to punch a ticket to the group final.
“21 wins is the best this program has ever had, you can definitely make an argument that they are the best team we have ever had here,” Laycock said. “Unfortunately it was not our day today, but we played 25 games and winning 21 of them is special.”
The Indians will now be without seniors Geerinck, Mike Tapp, and more who were instrumental in a memorable 2015 season.
“They stepped up to that leadership role as seniors and that helps you play confident, you look at Mendham, they have 20 seniors on that team,” Laycock said. “Tapp coming in knew he was going to be the man, so he was confident and so was Cameron.”
Mendham’s Julian Montilus assisted on the first goal and scored the third goal of the game to lock things up for Minutemen.
There was a change at head coach in the beginning of the season for Toms River South as Ed Leibe stepped down after suffering a heart attack in mid-August.
However, things didn’t change much on the sidelines for TRS, and neither did the working relationship between Laycock and Leibe as both were on the sidelines for the group final.
“In my opinion I don’t think anything has changed, we did the same thing this year as we have done in the past, we always discussed every personal and formation decisions,” Laycock said. “We have always had a great working relationship, we went on like it’s been the last 15 years or however long it has been.”
Chris Parker: email@example.com
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