SEWELL – Shane Snyder had little time for the silliness of thinking his team wasn’t ready or even that maybe his undefeated Washington Township program took Clearview lightly on Friday.
“I don’t think that happened today,” said Snyder, whose team entered the day with a perfect record and the top seed in the South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament. “They scored a good goal. (Clearview) played a hard game and made us work for everything. Ignore the records, that’s a really good team and this is why you play games on the field.”
Clearview pushed the Minutemen to the limit but in the end, one of the youngest players in uniform came through as freshman Matt Liss found the net just 2:14 into overtime to secure a 3-2 win in the opening round of the Tournament. Township (17-0-0) will host No.8 Mainland on Monday after the Mustangs beat No. 9 Glassboro 3-0 on Friday.
Clearview (11-6-0) will have a chance at redemption as the Pioneers will visit state power Delran next Friday as it prepares for the Group 4 state tournament, in which Washington Township will look to be the top seed.
“Give them credit,” Snyder said. “We got up 1-0 but they found a way to score and from that point it was fairly even.”
The fact is both teams had chances and each time Township scored, Clearview responded. The Pioneers last goal came late enough that the momentum looked to be carried into overtime.
“This may be the best thing for us,’ said senior Chad Yates, who scored the first goal of the afternoon and then got the big assist in overtime. “Knowing that we get that first goal, the energy went up but our style of play didn’t hold up.
“This is Coaches Cup. What you expect on paper means nothing. That’s a good team and they pushed us and maybe it’s exactly what we needed.”
In overtime, Township went on the attack and Yates set up to Clearview keeper Eric Weiss’s left. Weiss was outstanding the entire game but the service came into a pack of players and only one got any contact.
“There was all this excitement rushing through (all of us),” said Liss, who is fourth on the team with five goals. “It’s overtime and we need this goal. Chad sets it up and the balls comes in and it’s all, ‘who is going to get this’ I got a little piece of it to get it in. There’s no better feeling in the world.”
In the end, it’s still just one win and it will take three more with a target on their back for the Minutemen to repeat as Coaches Champions. It will take another four to secure a fifth straight South Jersey title and six to get the biggest goal of all a state title for the first time since 2015.
“Look we’ve only had one game that was close at the end and that was (a 2-1 win over Shawnee),” Snyder said. “We’ve had one, one-goal game and you never know how the kids will react. They tied it up with four minutes left and we had a great response and that’s something we can take into the next few weeks.”
Minutemen 3, Pioneers 2
Wash Twp. 1-1-1—3
C: Jack Accorsi, Bryce Ciccarelli. WT: Chad Yates, Arturo Serano, Matt Liss. Saves: Eric Weiss, C, 8; Mike Paagano, WT, 5.