WEST DEPTFORD – Richie Eveland picked a good time to score his first varsity goal.
Described by Rancocas Valley coach Damon Petras as a role-player, the senior forward rocketed in a shot off a rebound for the game’s lone tally.
Eveland’s score, coming off a corner kick set up by Mike Finley, gave the Red Devils a 1-0 win over West Deptford Saturday in the first round of the South Jersey Coaches tournament.
“I had just gotten into the game and I wanted to make a difference,” said Eveland, whose goal came with 19:39 to play in the second half. “I didn’t want to go into OT. It was my first touch of the game, and I just hit it.”
The win moved the No. 9 seed Red Devils into the second round where they will face No. 1 Shawnee.
Even though Eveland had not scored a goal this season, Petras was not surprised to see him come through with a big tally on Saturday.
“He works hard in practice,” the coach said. “He’s converted from midfield to the wing, so he can use his speed a little more. In practice, he finishes a lot of opportunities, and he finally hit one well like he’s been doing at practice.”
Eveland says he likes to use his practice time to replicate game conditions. He knows that is where he has a chance to make an impression.
“I don’t play very much so I try to go hard in practice to prove myself,” he said. “Once I get the opportunity I try to make the most of it.”
“He’s a role-player,” said Petras. “He’s been improving as the season goes on. Switching positions, being able to use his speed, he finished balls in practice, which is something we struggle with, so he earned his opportunity.”
It was a hard-fought battle by both teams, but Rancocas Valley appeared to take control of the game in the second half.
Eighth-seeded West Deptford didn’t get many good chances throughout the game. When the Eagles did threaten, Rancocas goalie Nick Mulkay was up to the challenge and held them off the board.
The teams went into the half in a scoreless tie, but West Deptford coach Steve Jakubowski felt his team began to lose some momentum in the second half.
“Overall I think the game was pretty balanced in the first half,” he said. “In the second half they came out with a lot of fire, and our guys kind of sat back a little too much.
“We were too complacent with the score being zero-zero. A good team like that, with a lot of different weapons that they have, they’re going to capitalize and that’s what happened.”
Even still, the Red Devils had a difficult time breaking through and getting on the scoreboard.
The problem they faced was the goal-keeping of West Deptford’s Jackson Clark, who stood up to constant pressure throughout the game.
Clark was credited with 10 saves and a few of them were made on difficult attempts, as he was able to keep his team in the game.
“He played very well,” said Jakubowski. “He made one big save in the first half and one in the second half.”
Unfortunately for Clark, however, he was not able to hold onto a hard corner kick that Finely placed out in the center of the box about 10 yards from the goal,
“I was just trying to whip it in the box, and get it to the six,” Finley said. “If you can get it to the six anything can happen. I knew Richie was on that side around the 18 and he was able to finish it. It was good work by him."
Eveland pounced on the defection and scored the goal with a high shot that Clark could not reach.
S.J. Coaches Cup
Rancocas Valley 0 1 -1
West Deptford 0 0 -0
Goal: Richie Eveland, Goalies: Nick Mulkey, R (5 saves), Jackson Clark, W, (10 saves)