By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A goal seemed like it was coming soon. Egg Harbor Township was dictating the pace, dominating possession, and had the best chances.
It was just a matter of time, and it happened. However, it was St. Augustine that found the back of the net, countering against an aggressive Eagles team.
Jake Ottinger’s goal was the only tally of the night, as the Hermits remained unbeaten in four games with a 1-0 victory on Friday night in Egg Harbor Township. Ottinger ran on to a loose ball roughly 20 yards away from goal. After a touch, the Vineland resident slipped a shot past charging Eagles keeper Matt Moreno off the far post and into the net with 10:28 left in the opening half.
“We work really hard and coach always says to keep high pressure,” Ottinger explained. “I saw the defender made a big touch, and I went to the ball, took my touch and tried to place it in a corner.”
He added: “We knew EHT is a really good team. We wanted to get the pressure off and get the early lead. We have been going down early the last few games so it was nice to get the early lead.”
It was the Eagles’ only loss of the season, as they dropped to 5-1. The way the Eagles lost was just as disappointing to the players. Egg Harbor Township started the season strong, and was looking to remain undefeated.
Once the Hermits scored, Egg Harbor Township lost the momentum.
“These guys are decent, but I don’t think we should have struggled that much. I don’t know if it’s the pressure; I don’t know what it is,” said Eagles star senior Jon Gjyleri, who has 14 goals this season.
He added: “I don’t think we played a full 80 minutes. We had our spurts, but (against) teams like this, you have to convert. I especially have to perform against these teams, and put the goals in because these are the important ones.”
With the Eales pressuring, the Hermits took advantage of some open spaces and continued to counter attack, but also kept possession longer.
“We knew their strength is in the middle of field and we tried to avoid the middle of the field,” St. Augustine coach Steve Rolando said.
St. Augustine had the better chances for most of the game, but couldn’t pull away. The Eagles also couldn’t get much going and couldn’t score against either Shane Flaherty, who left the game with a hand injury, or replacement keeper Nick Pilny.
However, the best save of the night may have belonged to the Hermits’ Spencer Infranco. EHT’s Arian Redzepi beat the keeper for what could have been the game-tying goal, but Infranco was able to boot the ball away from danger before it crossed the line.
“These guys wanted it and — as a result — 1-0 was good enough,” Rolando said.
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDgisepu
By GIUSEPPE UNGARO