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South Jersey Soccer:
Tigersharks Post Upset To Kickoff Memorial Day Tournament

Saturday, May 27, 2000

By Jerry Amari
SJSports Special Correspondent

The Vineland Tigersharks (under 11 boys traveling team) played the first game of the 12th Annual Tournament at 8 am on Saturday. Before game time, they sat through an emotional dedication ceremony to one of their teammates, Aaron Ploch. Aaron had passed away earlier in the season due to a viral infection that attacked his vital organs. The Tigersharks have dedicated this Spring 2000 season to his memory. Youth soccer players in South Jersey can remember the bright-eyed, energetic, young boy with a memorial plaque that Vineland Soccer Association placed at their Main Soccer Complex.


The early morning ceremony to kick off the Tournament was directed by Association President John Gregor. Gregor reminded everyone of the "veterans that have served our country to give us the freedom we enjoy today." Then Gregor turned to the rememberance of young Aaron. Vineland Mayor Anthony Campenella spoke to the crowd that had gathered for the ceremony. Aaron's coach Al Pellegrini and the team members of the Tigersharks gave the Ploch family Aaron's soccer shirt encased in a glass frame. The team will continue to wear Aaron's #5 on their shirt sheeve. After the Ploch family accepted the framed tribute, Aaron's older brother Ryan spoke to the gathering. It was an emotional moment for anyone who's children play sports, play games, or just do the things that every kid in America likes to do. Aaron's spirit will live on at the Vineland Soccer Complex with this monument dedicated to him.

Now the Tigersharks had a soccer game to play. Their opponent was the Woodstown "Venom," one of the better teams from the nearby Gloucester County Soccer League. The Tigersharks seemed mentally drained in the early minutes of the match. Woodstown dominated the tempo of the game. Two scores by the Venom early in the first half put the struggling Tigersharks in a deep hole. Somehow there was a light at the end of that hole. Could it have been some help from their fallen teammate Aaron? Twenty minutes into the match, the Tigersharks gained some composure on the playing field. Anthony Ganci scored to slice the lead to 2 to 1. Woodstown roared back with another goal, but the Tigerharks and Ganci connected again to bring the score to 3 to 2 with just a few minutes left in the first half.


The crowd was swelling as the word got around the Main Complex that the Tigersharks were playing for the biggest upset of their season against Woodstown. Tension grew as Vineland's goalkeeper Chris Tiltmann made several critical saves to stop Venom scoring chances. Anthony Ganci had another shot that hit the goalpost but not go in! Vineland was rallying offensively, with 15 minutes to play, the Tigerhark's Jake Dunn lifted a high arching shot from 15 yards away, and it dropped into the goal over the Venom's goalies fingetips. Game tied 3-3! The well trained Woodstown team would not quit. One shot by the Venom flew over the crossbar and another shot went wide in the last ten minutes of the match. As Vineland hustled down the field, Anthony Ganci was pushed to the ground by a Venom defender within the "18 line" and the Tigersharks were awarded a penalty kick. The crowd held its breath, as Ganci prepared to shot the ball one on one against the Woodstown goalie. There was only two minutes left in the match as Ganci drilled his shot into the lower right side of the goal to give Vineland its first lead of the day! (See video clips below.) Quickly Woodstown rallied to try to tie the game. Good defense by Jeffrey Brenner steered the ball out of bounds, away from Woodstown in the closing seconds of the game as the Vineland Tigersharks came back from an 0-2 deficit to win 4-3 over the Woodstown Venom.

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Photos by Boog Williams

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