CHERRY HILL – Highlight shows are about goals that can be defined as works of art, feature deft touches or sublime moments.
More often than not, goals are about one thing and one thing only.
“It’s about being in the right place,” St. Augustine junior Antonio Matos said. “You can’t score if you don’t have the ball and when you don’t have it, it’s your job to be in the right place. I was in the right place.”
On an evening in which every high seed won, won by just one goal, Matos wasn’t alone in finding the right place as St. Augustine, the No.2 seed in the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association Tournament on the boys’ side, beat No.3 Seneca 1-0. The Hermits (14-3-3) will get a chance to face defending champion and top-seeded Washington Township (19-0-0) which survived a physical battle with neighbor No.5 Williamstown 4-3 in the final game of the night at DeCou Field in Cherry Hill.
One field over, defending champion on the Girls side No.2 Eastern (19-2-0), needed a goal from sophomore Riley Tiernan to beat No.3 Washington Township 2-1. The win was the second in three tries against the Minutemaids and now the Vikings get a shot at top-seed Shawnee (16-1-2), a 2-1 winner over Moorestown.
“It’s a huge deal,” Tiernan said. “That’s the difference between winning and losing. It doesn’t matter who we face in the final. We’re there and we have every intention of going there to win.”
The finals will be held at DeCou on Saturday evening with the boy’s game at 5 p.m. followed by the girls. Both games feature the defending champion and both games will have teams that are acquainted with one another as Shawnee and Eastern have already played twice and St. Augustine and Washington Township annually square off in the preseason.
“There will be no secrets,” Shawnee head coach Drew Wagner said. “We’re excite to be in this position. We know them well and that’s going to make for a great game.”
For St. Augustine, it’s been eight years since the Hermits found themselves in a Coaches Tournament Final. In a game they struggled to finish, a mishandled ball proved to be the difference.
“You have to take advantage of opportunities,” Matos said. “We had a restart outside the area and the ball got played in. The keeper mishandled it and I just finished.”
“It’s exciting for us to finally get back to a final,” St. Augustine head coach Steve Rolando said. “It’s one of our goals every year and now we have a chance to do something special.”
The wildest game of the night proved to be the nightcap as Washington Township had its hand full against upset-minded Williamstown. The two met earlier in the year with the Minutemen coming away with a 2-0 win. That pedestrian win would not be repeated as Township held two goal leads three different times only to see the Braves find an answer.
“You always have a target on you,” said Township head coach Shane Snyder, whose team is the last squad with a perfect record and owns four consecutive South Jersey Group 4 titles. “It’s exciting to be in a championship game. In the end that’s what your goals are.”
Township opened the night with goals by Matt Liss and Ryan Cleary – the junior in a scary moment suffered a lower body injury and had to be taken to the hospital with five minutes remaining as what appeared to be a precautionary measure – but Williamstown countered with its first of two penalty kick goals on the night. Its second penalty came in the final three minutes and an already physical battle became a tension filled finale as the Braves desperately searched for their fourth goal and overtime. The Minutemen held on and after several on field altercations at the buzzer, both teams regained composure and the two teams shook hands.
“We weren’t expecting a cake walk,” Snyder said. “They are a very good team and they are well organized. They created chances, we were fortunate to score one more than them.
“It’s just cool to be in the finals.”
Hermits 2, Golden Eagles 0
St. Augustine 0—1----1
SA: Antonio Matos.
Minutemen 4, Braves 3
Washington Twp. 2—2----4
WT: Chad Yates 2, Matt Liss, Ryan Cleary. W: Cullen Rutter 2, Danny Coffey.
Vikings 2, Minutemaids 1
Washington Twp. 1—0----1
WT: Amanda Attanasi. E: Emily Eustace, Riley Tiernnan.
Renegades 2, Quakers 1
M: Isa Arvelo. S: Alexa Andres, Alexandra Kornafel.