South Jersey Soccer:
Sunday, August 15, 1999
By Forrest Robleto
The Chico Rooks of California beat the California Jaguars of Salinas, CA 1-0 to give Chico a four point lead (71) over the South Jersey Barons (67) in overall D-3 Pro League standings. Since there are three divisions in the D-3, the playoff structure has the top four teams from each division in playoff against each other, and the winners of the divisional playoff join with the team with the highest league point total to make up the final four. In order to overcome Chico's four-point lead, the Barons needed the four points from a win and the bonus point that comes with scoring three or more goals in a game or shootout.
The Barons opponent tonight at Toms River North High School, the New Jersey Stallions, blanked the Barons 3-0 in the Baron's home opener and split the other two games of the regular season. It was fitting that this should be the last game of the regular season. In a peculiar twist, since the team with the highest point total gets a bye to the semi finals, each of the remaining teams from that division move up one place. As a consequence of this, if the Barons were to win without the bonus point, they would then be division champions and the Stallions would have had to play a one game playoff to determine if they or Reading would be in fourth place for the playoffs. Since the Barons got all five points the Barons get a bye to the semi-finals and the Stallions move to third place.
Jim Harvey opened the scoring with a header from a Mark Southern corner kick at the 6-minute mark. Ten minutes later Matt Brooks stymied the defense with a perfectly timed pass on an overlapping run into the box. For the third goal Mark Southern got the ball into Rob Dimeo who got it to Joe Nick who buried it.
League Player of the Week, Stallions' Julio Cesar put the Stallions on the board with a penalty kick with nine minutes left in the game. It was all the Stallions would get.
The win was the team's 11th in a row, setting a new team record. It gave the Barons a league record of 16-2 and an overall record of 18-4 including U.S Open Cup qualification games. (Two of the four losses were to the New Jersey Stallions.) The Barons next game will be in the semi-finals scheduled for the weekend of September 4. This game may be at Carey Stadium in Ocean City. Playoff times and locations are to be determined.
The Barons provided us with a great season. Good Luck to them in the Playoffs. Whatever the outcome, it has already been a great season.
Photos by Forrest Robleto
©1999 South Jersey Sports Online