EWING With lightning quick goal scorers like Trenton Catholic Academys Chazz Jones and STEM Civics Anthony Ali on the same soccer field, who will win is anyones best guess.
These crafty seniors gave each others teams a run for their money one final time in Burlington County Scholastic League Independence Division action Wednesday.
Entering the game, Jones and Ali had combined to score 51 goals this season. That number grew to 54 yesterday.
With plenty of help from classmate Darwin Salguero, Jones and the Iron Mikes were able to get past Ali and the Purplefects, 3-1, to lock up a share of the Independence Division title with Burlington City. TCA and the Blue Devils went 9-1 in league play.
Jones and Ali made an immediate impact on Wednesdays contest as Ali got free ahead of the pack in the early going to rip a shot on which Iron Mikes junior goalkeeper Bryan Ovalle had to make a diving save.
On the counter-attack, Jones cashed in when he eluded an offside call to connect on a lead from Salguero in the games second minute.
Its not really anything new. Ive had hat tricks in the first half before, Jones said. They call Darwin and I The Dynamic Duo. Were always looking for one another.
With all the hype around the biggest goal scorers, it was easy to lose sight of Salguero, a senior midfielder who entered the game with 16 goals and nine assists.
Salguero lifted his goal count to 17 (second-best on the team) when made a 35-yard sprint to the net and scored with seven minutes left in the first half. He tied freshman teammate John Kestler for TCAs assist lead with 11 when he led Jones for goal No. 31 to ice the game with eight minutes left.
We had to stay strong as the game went on, Jones said. Sometimes we tend to buckle or fold. Not today.
Jones second score was a testament to his learning as play progressed. Eight minutes earlier, STEM Civics freshman goalie Pavel Espana (10 saves) had come off his line to stonewall Jones on a breakaway. Given a second chance, Jones held onto the ball a little longer, dribbled around Espanas charge and tucked a shot into the vacated net.
Hey, that happens in soccer, said Ali, whose club played much better in the second half, but could not make up for its two-goal halftime deficit. This is still the best season weve ever had.
Under former Notre Dame High coach Rich Leedom in their first year as part of the BCSL, the Purplefects finished the regular season 10-7 and went 6-4 in the Independence Division, placing them third behind second-year head coach Scott Alvarez Iron Mikes (10-6) and City (11-9).
Ali showed what STEM Civics is capable of when he sent a bicycle kick into the net off a head ball from Gabriel Luna midway through the second half to make the final 20 minutes intense.
I never thought Id end up as a striker, said Ali, who connected on his 23rd goal. I went from being a center fullback to a center halfback to the center of the attack. Weve trained since July and have had better conditioning this season than any other.
Jones can relate to the rewards that come from hard work.
Returning from minor knee surgery this season, I was hoping to score 20, Jones said. Now I have 31. So I guess its time to make new goals.
With state tournament games ahead for Jones and Ali, that is something both can focus on before their stellar senior seasons come to a close.
TCA (10-6) 2 1 3
STEMCivics(10-7) 0 1 1
Goals: CJones 2, DSalguero (TCA), Ali (SC); Assists: DSalguero 2, Ovalle (TCA), Luna (SC).
Shots: 13 (TCA), 7 (SC); Saves: Ovalle 6 (TCA), Espana 10 (SC).
Originally posted here:
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