High School Soccer:
Thursday, November 5, 1998
By Vincent Lewis Jr.
The South Jersey Group 1 Boys Soccer Tournament matched the very hot Maple Shade Wildcats against the Pitman Panthers. Strong play early by the Wildcats determined the outcome of this match. Maple Shade had four different players score goals in their 4-1 victory. Coach Brian Croly had his Wildcats pressure the Panthers' defense with nine shots on goal to gain the early 2-0 lead.
This playoff game took place at Howard R. Yocum Middle School. Even though the Wildcats were not at their own high school, they made Yocum home. Frank Snyder assisted Brian Eisinger on the first goal of the game. It was one of those goals were persistence paid off. Eisinger scored on a rebound that trickled though into the net and the Wildcats gained the lead at the 18:51 mark. That persistence continued with a total of nine shots on goal during the first half. Bill Burke received a direct kick that sent a cross kick right above Pitman's keeper Ryan Armstrong. Burke finished things off with the goal to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead with 8:46 remaining in the half.
During the half, Coach Derek Reardigan emphasized strongly how you only get one chance at an opportunity like this one. He got through to his Panthers and they did not waste any time cutting the lead in half. Jon Griffith, with just 3:23 into the second half, scored on a shot near post. But Maple Shade was not going to let things get away that easily. They had their senior midfielder Jason Kufta gain the edge again with that strong play that started the game. Kufta scored on a penalty kick when a hand ball was called in front of the net with 28:23 remaining in the game.
The final goal of the game was awarded to Chris Burke of Maple Shade when Brian Salvatore tried to clear a ball that got past Pitman's second half goal keeper Sean Cunningham. Salvatore got to the ball, but his attempt to clear the ball went off the side of his foot. The ball hit the cross bar and into the net with 23:04 remaining in the game. The Wildcats had little problem keeping their opponent from gaining any momentum the rest of the game.
Photos by Art Redd
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