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A finer shade of red

November 15, 2012

Wall outplays Allentown on the road to earn trip to the Central Jersey Group III final

ALLENTOWN — According to Wall senior defender Rebecca Mattia, there was a simple explanation as to why such an intense and physical battle broke out between the Crimson Knights and the Allentown Redbirds during the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association [NJSIAA] Central Jersey Group III semifinal on Monday afternoon.

The two squads were simply just exerting their wills to survive and play another day.

“Once you get to this point of the season, everyone wants it, everyone wants to advance,” Mattia said. “You build yourself up throughout the season to get ready for big games like this.”

During Monday’s semifinal, it was evident that both teams coveted a trip to the sectional championship game. In the end, though, Wall would prove to be the team that was willing to go a little bit harder, and dig a little bit deeper, for that adventure west, resulting in a 3-1 victory for the Crimson Knights.

With the win, Wall [14-2-2] advanced play Moorestown High School in the sectional final.

Wall head coach Nancy Gross was proud of a strong effort from her players, who were in the unusual spot of playing as an underdog in the Central Jersey Group III Tournament. In seasons past, Wall has been used to being the top seed. However, this year, the Crimson Knights were given the No. 3 seed in the bracket and were forced to travel to Allentown High School to take on the Redbirds, the No. 2 seed, on the road.

“This year we have had to scrape a little bit more, and fight a little bit more,” Gross said.

The Crimson Knights showed Gross and all those in attendance that they were ready to fight against the tough, favored Redbirds.

The road team set the tone early in the game, getting a goal from junior Nicole Kuerzi off an assist from Mattia in just the seventh minute of action to give the Crimson Knights a 1-0 lead.

“We got off to a strong start,” Gross said.

Following Kuerzi’s goal, Wall was able to control much of the rest of a physical first half, but a late goal from the Redbirds’ Alex Kinsey brought things back even at one heading into halftime.

In the second half, the Crimson Knights picked up their play even harder and eventually took the game over for good off a penalty corner.

Senior Alex Oldock’s goal in the 42nd minute, via Mattia’s second assist, gave Wall a 2-1 lead, one the group never relinquished.

Oldock, who was moved from offense back to defense this season, was happy to get into the mix offensively in the Crimson Knights’ biggest game of the season.

“It just felt good,” Oldock said of scoring her fifth goal of the year. “I like being able to contribute in the back by helping save goals while also being able to put them in. It brought me back.”

Riding the momentum of Oldock’s goal, Wall put the cherry on top in the 53rd minute, compliments of a connection between a senior and freshman.

Beating an Allentown defender to a loose ball near midfield, Wall senior Dayna Nesta was able to out-sprint the Redbirds’ defense down the left sideline, before finding freshman Sam Scire to put Wall up, 3-1.

“I was able to get past the defender and hit it to [Scire’s] stick,” said Nesta, recalling the play. “It just clicked. It felt amazing.”

Allentown had little chance of making a comeback in the game, as Wall’s defense shined late. Led by a 11-save effort from senior Bev Perkins, the defensive unit of she, Oldock, Mattia, Morgan Durkin and Courtney Boland allowed Wall fans to breathe easy during the final seven minutes of action.

*The Crimson Knights were defeated by Moorestown, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III final yesterday.   A full story on the game will be available in next week’s issue of The Coast Star.

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Knights earn their stripes versus Zebras in state game

November 15, 2012

NEPTUNE— It was certainly cold on Saturday night.

Wall senior Tom Bogert beats New Brunswick’s goalie for the golden goal in double overtime during the Crimson Knights’ 2-1 state tournament victory over the Zebras. Photo courtesy SALLY FOLEY

So cold, in fact, that Wall senior Tom Bogert had the frigid temperature on his mind while celebrating his golden goal in double overtime that sent the Crimson Knights into the Central Jersey Group III quarterfinal.

“I was just running,” said Bogert, whose goal off an assist from sophomore Zachary Hetzel in the 97th minute of play against New Brunswick gave Wall, the No. 6 seed, a 2-1 victory over the 11th-seeded Zebras in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association [NJSIAA] Tournament. “I just kept running and was thinking, don’t take my shirt off — it’s too cold.”

Bogert’s dramatic goal on Saturday was able to cap off a special night for the Wall boys soccer team, which was back on the field for the first game since Hurricane Sandy left the area in a state of devastation. The Crimson Knights were scheduled to return to action earlier in the week, but last Wednesday’s nor’easter further delayed the process.

Wall head coach Garry Linstra was proud of his players’ patience and perseverance during a trying time for the entire Wall community, which, he thought, ultimately led to a win on Saturday.

“It has been a tough two weeks for everybody — we were all wondering when we were going to play, and then the snow came,” Linstra said. “The kids’ mentality, though, is to do whatever it takes to win. They were able to do that today.”

With snow covering their home field at the Wall Athletic Complex, the Crimson Knights, despite being the lower seed, were forced to play New Brunswick on a neutral, turf site at the Springfield Elementary School in Neptune.

Though the team was on unfamiliar grounds for its “home game” versus the Zebras, Wall looked comfortable from the get go. With a goal from senior Alan Burdge in the 9th minute, the Crimson Knights took a 1-0 lead over New Brunswick in the early going.

Burdge knew that despite Wall being the slight favorite, it was important for the club to start off well against New Brunswick, a team that brought a fleet-footed offensive attack with it to the state tournament.

“When it comes to the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what any team has done all season,” said Burdge, whose goal held up as the lone one scored in the first half. “It comes down to one game and which team is going to play better that day.”

In the second half, New Brunswick proved it was not ready to go quietly into the crisp, dark night.

After trailing for just over one hour of play, the Zebras finally struck in the 62nd minute, tying the game at one with a goal from forward Omar Garcia. Garcia’s goal would force the two teams into overtime.

Following a scoreless first overtime, and with the minutes dwindling down toward penalty kicks late in the second OT, Bogert was able to see the deal for Wall with arguably the biggest goal of his soccer career.

“It was a great game,” Bogert said. “They type you expect to play in the state tournament.”

NO PENALTY KICKS, PLEASE

It would be hard to find a soccer player, or coach, from any club who looks forward to a game coming down to penalty kicks [PKs]. The Crimson Knights did not want their game with New Brunswick to go to PKs, as evident from their comments following the win.

“We certainly didn’t want to go to PKs,” said Bogert.

“I don’t like PKs — these guys will tell you that,” Linstra said. “I don’t even watch when we kick. I didn’t want us to go to PKs one bit. We will always push for the win [in overtime] because we don’t want the game to be decided with PKs. We want to win games outright.”

CAPTAIN, OH, CAPTAIN

It was fitting the Wall’s two captains, Burdge and Bogert, notched the two goals scored during Saturday’s victory. Linstra relied on the two seniors to keep the Crimson Knights motivated and fresh during the long gap in play caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“Both those guys have been plugging away hard over the past couple of years,” Linstra said of his captains. “Over the break, when we couldn’t have practices with the kids, they were having captains’ practices. They got the guys that were in the area together and did whatever they could. I am proud of the type of leaders they are.”

SOPHOMORE HETZEL NOTCHES KEY ASSIST

Sophomore Zachary Hetzel wanted his upperclassmen teammates to feel they could trust him this fall. Hetzel’s assist of Bogert’s game-winner against the Zebras will undoubtedly leave a fond memory of his play with the class of 2013.

“Zach picked his head up, very smartly, and saw me,” Bogert said. “That ball could not have been better. It was a great ball.”

“Zach gave Bogey [Bogert] a great through ball,” added Burdge.

When asked to describe the feeling of recording the game-winning assist, Hetzel was nearly at a loss for words.

“It was awesome — I don’t really know how to describe it,” he said. “It’s the best feeling ever.”

KNIGHTS FALL TO PRINCETON

With their win over New Brunswick, the Crimson Knights took on Princeton, the No. 3 seed and defending Central Jersey Group III champion, in the quarterfinal round on Monday.

Wall fell to the Little Tigers, 2-1, in overtime, to end its 2012 season.

The Crimson Knights were able to force overtime against the favored Little Tigers, before Princeton’s Chase Ealy scored the game-winner in the 82nd minute.

With the loss, Wall ended its season at 14-5-1.

The loss ended the high school soccer careers of a stellar 2013 senior class.

The group includes Bogert, Burdge, Eric Doucette, Chris Jakuc, Sean Dailey, Dan DeGenova, Don Kessler, Shane Thompson, Connor Ritchey and Andrew Block.

Linstra was not sure when the season would end earlier in the week, but did not look forward to saying goodbye to his seniors.

“I am going to be very sad when this season ends,” said the coach. “This is a great group of kids. They are super competitive, fun to be around and are just great all-around kids — the whole team.”

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Knights band together to help with Belmar relief effort

November 8, 2012

WALL TOWNSHIP — “I honestly felt like I was in a dream. I couldn’t believe what I saw.”

Wall High School senior Katlyn Cusack may have been speaking from a personal vantage point on Monday afternoon, but it would be hard to argue that her words did not echo the sentiment of all those who were seeing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy for the first

Wall students help with Belmar relief effort

time.

Cusack got her initial view of the aftermath while in Belmar shortly after the storm. The town seemed like a totally different place from the one she and her family regularly frequents during the summer months.

“We grew up going to Belmar in the summer,” she said. “I felt like my childhood was gone.”

Rather than dwell on their washed away memories for too long, though, the Cusacks decided to use the unique makeup of their family to help begin with the recovery process in the town close to their hearts.

Katlyn Cusack, along with her two brothers, Mike and Bryan, are triplets and all play sports for the Crimson Knights at Wall High School. Katlyn and Mike are both currently in season with the field hockey and football teams, respectively, with Mike also playing lacrosse with his brother Bryan in the spring.

With guidance from their parents, Mike and Barbara, the Cusack children were able to round up friends and teammates from all three sports programs, taking them into Belmar on Saturday to offer assistance to the relief effort.

The experience was an eye-opening one, according to the younger Mike Cusack.

“It was pretty much a huge shock,” he said, prior to taking the field for football practice on Monday. “Belmar got hit real hard. There was no boardwalk, no beach — everything was a mess. There were trees down everywhere and people’s houses were flooded. Things were destroyed.”

Members of the three teams did everything within their power to help members of the Belmar community, ranging anywhere from assisting residents with gutting their basements, to something as simple as offering a few kind words to those in distress. In fact, may of the athletes noticed that just a little bit of conversation went a long way to those in need.

“A lot of people just wanted to talk,” said senior Russell Lorusso, a football player. “It was a humbling experience.”

Katlyn Cusack recalled a specific conversation with the first resident she came across on the relief mission.

“The first house that we went to, [the man] didn’t need anything, but I felt like he just needed someone to talk to,” she said. “I wanted to keep the conversation going as long as I could. I was glad to help him in that way.”

Senior Scott Van Glahn, a defensive back on the football team, felt his experience with the relief effort on Saturday has changed his perspective on life permanently. He felt in some way that he was thrust into adulthood a little bit sooner than expected, but was fine with it as long as he was able to help those in need.

“It really was a wake-up call for me — I feel like I matured greatly from the experience,” Van Glahn said. “It makes me think more about other people now. I feel terrible about what happened and I feel for all the families who lost everything. I was glad I could do something to help.”

Katlyn Cusack, like all those involved, was grateful to offer fellow locals a helping hand.

“We all felt great about helping the people who needed it most,” she said. “We still don’t have power, but that is nothing compared to what happened [near the shore].”

She added that she is hopeful by next summer, locals will be back to enjoying the beautiful beaches that make up Belmar’s shoreline. Katlyn Cusack thinks the spirit of the residents, coupled with help from those from outside the devastated areas, will ultimately be the difference in returning the shore back to form.

“If it keeps going, I think we can get back to having the beaches next summer,” she said.

Her brother Mike is hopeful, too.

“We can come together to overcome this,” he said.

 COACHES LEND THEIR SUPPORT

Along with the players who took part in the relief effort, a couple of Wall High School coaches made the trip into Belmar, as well.

Wall boys lacrosse head coach Chris Knight and Wall field hockey assistant coach Cathy Gallagher were both on hand to lend a helping hand to the cause. Wall football head coach Nick Gregorio could not make the trip due to the tough travel conditions following the storm, but was able to lend his support to his players via text message, according to Barbara Cusack.

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Boys Soccer: Roses, Warriors fall in SCT

October 19, 2012

TOMS RIVER — The St. Rose and Manasquan Boys Soccer teams lost their respective Shore Conference Tournament [SCT] games yesterday.

The Purple Roses fell 6-1 to the Griffins of Monsignor Donovan, while the Warriors dropped their game to Toms River South, 1-0.

That leaves only Wall as the last of the local clubs remaining in the SCT.  The Crimson Knights earned a first round bye and will take on Shore Regional today.  If the game is rained out, it will be moved to Saturday at 2 p.m.

Information on the progress of the SCT will be available in the Oct. 25 edition of The Coast Star.

For live updates on @coaststar soccer, follow me on twitter: @samcostantino

Wall Field Hockey advances in SCT with win over Middletown North; Squan eliminated by Rumson

October 17, 2012

WALL TWP. — The Wall Field Hockey team [#7] earned a trip to the Shore Conference Tournament [SCT] quarterfinal with a 3-0 victory over Middletown North [#10] this afternoon.

Junior Sophie Lozowski scored two goals to lead the Knights’ offense.

The ladies in crimson will continue their quest for an SCT title on Saturday, when they take on Rumson-Fair Haven, the two seed, on the road.  The Bulldogs earned their trip to the SCT quarterfinal with a 6-0 victory over Manasquan today.

————————————————————————-

Wall 3, Middletown North 0

Goals: W- Sophie Lozowski [45th, 47th], Nicole Kuerzi [23rd]

Assists: W- Dayna Nesta [23rd], Alex Oldock [45th]

Saves: W- Bev Perkins, 6

————————————————————————–

Read about Wall’s progress in the SCT in the Oct. 25 edition of The Coast Star

Follow me on twitter for live updates on all The Coast Star teams: @samcostantino

Warriors are SCT bound

October 11, 2012

MANASQUAN — With a crucial, 2-0 victory over Monmouth Regional High School at Pat Barnaba Field last Friday afternoon, the Manasquan field hockey team improved to 5-4-3 on the season, which officially qualified the group for the Shore Conference Tournament [SCT].

Though many teams will be punching their respective tickets to the prestigious tournament, the Warriors will be doing it with just a little bit more pride. That is because this group, entering the season with a lot of question marks due to high graduation numbers, was able to come together and attain a goal which may have seemed like a stretch when starting camp this summer.

“It is a really big accomplishment for this squad,” said a proud Pam Cosse, the Warriors’ head coach, after the win. “We came into the season young and inexperienced. I wanted them to believe in themselves this year.”

Knowing a trip to the SCT was just a win away, Manasquan came out ready to go on its home field Friday, taking an early advantage over the Falcons.

“Our whole team was ready to come out and get the win,” said junior captain Molly Bryant. “We came out on fire and really played as a team.”

In the eighth minute of the game, senior Kaleigh Jordan scored the contest’s first goal off an assist from freshman Jess Cooney to put the Warriors up, 1-0.

Taking a one-goal advantage into the second half, Manasquan extended its lead to 2-0 on a goal from Bryant with 25 minutes remaining in the game.

Bryant’s goal was the first of her varsity career, as she does not see many opportunities as the team’s starting sweeper.

“It was an awesome feeling,” Bryant said of finding the back of the net for the first time. “I was really excited, and the team was really supportive.”

Bryant’s first career goal sealed things for the Warriors, and also accounted as the second assist for Cooney, who, as a freshman, was making her first career varsity start.

“I was really nervous,” Cooney said of getting the start. “I played in a couple of varsity scrimmages, but never started in a game before.”

Cooney may have felt nerves, but she certainly didn’t show it on Monday. Cosse was proud of how aggressively her freshman played.

“Jess Cooney has been playing rec field hockey for me since the fourth grade and she has always loved it,” Cosse said. “She is excited about the game and she has courage. I think all the freshmen coming in are really enjoying it. She was great today.”

Cosse knows the Warriors have the ability to play stellar field hockey when her players are exuding confidence on the field.

“They know how to play good hockey and they know how to execute,” said the coach, who also saw her team play great defense in earning a shutout against the Falcons. “You saw that today.”

Following the win over Monmouth Regional, Cosse looked forward to the opportunity to see her squad compete in the SCT.

The SCT seeding meeting was held on Tuesday night. The Warriors drew Point Pleasant Borough in the first round [see related story].

The coach wants her team to play in the SCT the same way it played on Friday against the Falcons — confidently.

“It is time to put the big girl pants on and get ready to go hard,” Cosse said with a smile. “They have to remember that on any given day, anything can happen. They have to continue to believe in themselves.”

The players shared their coach’s excitement for the tournament.

“We are really excited to go to the SCT,” Bryant said. “We are ready to go.”

Information regarding the Warriors’ first-round matchup against Point Pleasant Borough in the SCT will be available in the Oct. 18 edition of The Coast Star, along with the progress of Wall, which also qualified.

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Wall Cheer team to present fourth annual ‘Pink Out’

October 4, 2012

WALL TOWNSHIP — The Wall High School Cheerleading squad will run its annual Pink Out event during the varsity football team’s game against Brick Township tomorrow night, according to Athletic Director Thomas Ridoux.

The annual event is in its fourth year, with its main objective to promote awareness of breast cancer, the most common form of cancer found in women. The “Pink Out” night will also raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a global foundation set up to fight the disease.

October is breast cancer awareness month.

To raise funding, the Wall High School Cheerleading squad will be selling both long and short sleeve, pink Tee-Shirts, along with sweatshirts, with all the money raised going directly to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

The cheerleaders are also asking spectators who do not purchase shirts to wear their own form of pink to support the cause.

Follow me on twitter: @samcostantino