By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
MAYS LANDING — With a young lineup featuring six starters who are either freshmen or sophomores, Oakcrest’s strategy is to pack it in on the defensive end and use its speed up top to catch teams off guard on counter attacks.
Ocean City head coach Aaron Bogushefsky had just a few short words of advice prior to playing the Falcons on Wednesday afternoon: don’t get caught.
The Red Raiders heeded that advice and pushed forward most of the game, and after several frustrating misses on open nets, sophomore Hunter Paone drilled a shot off a rebound in the 71st minute into the lower left corner of the goal to give Ocean City a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
“They are always a tough team to play because they game plan like that. They have a couple of quick kids up top, so they just try to weather the storm and put one over the top on you. It can be pretty effective at times if you get caught,” Bogushefsky said. “Our goal was not to get caught today. We were up 24-6 in shooting, so I like our effort, but we have a lot of things we can do better. We’re still a work in progress. We only have two returning starters.”
Oakcrest goalie Jack Markley came out to the six-yard line to make the initial stop on a corner kick, but the Falcons’ defense was unable to clear the ball and Paone corralled the rebound and ripped a shot past a diving Markley to break the scoreless tie. Ocean City (2-1-1) had several great opportunities on open nets prior to Paone’s goal. On one occasion, defender Wiley Markley saved a goal by clearing a shot after Jack Markley had come out near the 18 to break up a run to goal by the Red Raiders. Ocean City also had a shot sail high on an open net.
But the Red Raiders figured they would eventually score given the number of shots they were putting on goal, and finally Paone was able to break through.
“I was just in the right spot. Every time I think the ball is going to come to me, so I just expect the best. I was following the ball, I saw it come across and I just hit through it like I always do, and it found the back of the net,” Paone said. “At first, it was just reaction. But I’m used to that. He’s a good goalkeeper, but I worked through it. I just knew I wanted to get that goal and I wanted our team to win. We just kept working hard. You’re not going to get every goal. If we did, we would be 4-0. So we just have to keep working hard, keep our heads up and keep working on getting that goal.”
“We work on set plays a lot. He happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Bogushefsky said. “I told them we’re going to score a lot of scrappy goals this year. We’re not going to be hitting screamers from 40 yards out, so we have to learn to play everything to the whistle. Every day in practice, everything we do, we don’t stop until it’s dead. I think him being in the right place at the right time was a product of that.”
Ocean City started the season with a 7-0 rout of Lower Cape May, but the Red Raiders were winless in their last two games, having tied Cinnaminson and lost to Middle Township.
“It’s been different because we lost a lot of seniors from last year,” Paone said. “We knew coming in we were going to be young and we all had to work together and work extra hard to get the process in. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling. We just have to trust the process.”
Said Bogushefsky, “It’s a team effort. The quality of soccer today I didn’t think was that great, but the outcome was good for us.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN