PENNSAUKEN – Asked to characterize his team’s performance so far this season, Steve Kosyla suggested the Eastern High School boys soccer squad is being somewhat overlooked.
“We're playing well," the Vikings coach said. "But to be honest, I don’t think we’re getting enough respect."
After Monday night’s 2-0 win over Bishop Eustace in an Olympic Conference interdivision game, the Vikings are now 9-2-2.
The Vikings' losses are to Shawnee and Washington Township, the No. 1 and 4 teams in the South Jersey Coaches Association poll.
The final version of that poll, coming next week, will seed the 16-team annual Coaches Cup Tournament.
Despite posting a 2-0-1 record last week the Vikings fell two spots to No. 12 in those rankings.
That’s one of the reasons Kosyla wanted his team to put on a showcase performance on Monday. The Vikings responded by breaking a nine-game win streak for Eustace (12-2).
“I thought tonight we could have played with anybody,” Kosyla said. “When we play our game I think we can play with anybody in South Jersey.”
In the latest coaches poll, Eustace was ranked No. 3. In the SJSD rankings, Eustace is No. 4 and Eastern is No. 7.
Eastern has now gone four games without a loss since dropping a decision to Shawnee.
The Vikings struck for two goals in the first half, one coming on a header from Terrell Collins with an assist on a corner kick from Phil Varner.
Varner later extended the lead with a perfectly placed direct kick that cleared the defensive wall and found the top corner of the net from about 20 yards out.
Like their coach, Varner and Collins said they are pleased with the way their season is going.
“I think we’re going good,” Varner said. “We’ve been on a little win streak and if we keep playing like this, we’ll be fine.”
Collins spoke about how Eastern approached this encounter against Eustace as an opportunity to send a message to future opponents.
“This was a huge game,” he said. “Our streak goes on because of this, so things are going great. We’re all hard workers on the field and we want to help each other, so that’s how we get the job done.”
Getting on the board first was important, Collins said, but he looked at Varner’s goal as the big tally of the game.
“It was huge for momentum,” he said. “If didn’t get that goal, they would have needed just one goal to be back into the game.”
To hear Varner tell his version of how he scored the goal, you’d think it almost happened by accident.
“I don’t really practice much on direct kicks,” he said. “I was just trying to get it over the wall. It just helped us a lot because it gave us some momentum.”
Kosyla saw the Vikings’ ability to cash in on their chances a the key to the game.
“I thought it was a very even game,” he said. “We took advantage of a couple of opportunities and that was the difference.”
Despite falling behind, Eustace kept pressing to get on the board, but could not penetrate the Eastern defense or get one past goalie Jeremy Fulton.
A senior who backs up a team that regularly has eight to 10 juniors on the field at any given time, Fulton made a couple of big saves, and Eustace miscued on another couple chances later in the game.
“Sometimes you get a game where no matter what you do you can’t get a ball into the back of the net,” said Eustace coach Danny Moffa.
“Their keeper made a couple of awesome saves and they had a couple of defenders make goal-line clearances,” he added. “At the end of the day sometimes you have to chalk it up as it’s not happening for us tonight.”
B. Eustace 0-0-0
Goals: Terrell Collins, Phil Varner. Goalies: Jeremy Fulton, E, (7 saves), Zach Young, BE, (6 saves)