EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Every year, Ocean City boys soccer coach Aaron Bogushefsky schedules tough teams in September and early October, and sometimes the Red Raiders suffer a few losses during the regular season. But when you play a challenging schedule, no opponent or situation is ever intimidating or too much to handle.
Top-seeded St. Augustine Prep took a 1-0 lead on the No. 2 Red Raiders early in the second half on a tally by Antonio Matos, but Ocean City battled back on a pair of goals by freshman John Lindsay to beat the Hermits, 2-1, and win the inaugural Cape-Atlantic League Tournament championship on Wednesday night at Egg Harbor Township High School.
"This is the only way to look forward to the state tournament, and that's what our long-term goal is," said midfielder Anthony Inserra.
"We get the hardest out-of-conference games, but it's for our own good. Even if we lose, we get experience, and games like this help us get better," said Matt Brook, who set up Lindsay's first goal with a booming free kick from about 40 yards out.
With less than 10 minutes gone by in the second half, Kevin Witkowski played a ball into the Ocean City box and the Red Raiders (11-4) had trouble clearing it. Matos took advantage, corralling the loose ball and putting a shot into the far right corner to give St. Augustine Prep (11-3-3) a 1-0 lead.
But not long after, Ocean City knotted the score at 1-1 when Lindsay got control of Brook's free kick and found the back of the net. The Red Raiders appeared to take the lead later in the second half on a goal by Inserra, but the tally was waved off with an offsides call.
"I was kind of hyped about that (goal) and the ref kind of ruined my moment, but John scored, so it's all good," Inserra said. "Prep is what, the No. 2 seed in the Coaches Cup? We lost to them 2-0 a few weeks ago but we weren't at full strength, but we knew if we had our full team we could come in and win, and we did."
"It obviously feels good, first year, we come and win it and a freshman getting two goals, John Lindsay," Brook said. "We knew we could put one in. We kept hammering the house, (Inserra) had that one offsides goal that was debatable (whether he was offsides), and we just knew we had to keep coming."
Ocean City, coming off a 5-0 win over No. 3 Pleasantville in Monday's semifinal, was a bit disorganized in the first half, but got back to its strength of set pieces and playing through balls up the middle in the second half, and that turned out to be the difference.
"We were just rushing in the first half and we realized after they put one in that the game's not over, we have to keep going and play how we know how to play," Brook said. "We got back to how we play, we scored, it worked and we just kept going with it and ended up winning."
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays