2014 Manalapan Memorial Day Tournament (U14 Boys)
Somerset Hills Soccer Club U14B Red Bulls competed in, and won, their last ever tournament together at the 2014 Manalapan Memorial Day Tournament. Placed in Bracket B against 3 tough opponents – Hazlet Cobras, Wyckoff Torpedoes Taranto and Manalapan Heat – the Red Bulls finished top of their group with a total of 9 points. In the tournament final, the Red Bulls convincingly beat the winners of Bracket A, New Egypt Bohemians, by 3 goals to zero. This was the Red Bulls’ sixth piece of silverware in little under 2 years. Here is a summary of each game en route to the 2014 Manalapan Memorial Day Tournament victory.
Group Game 1: SHSC Red Bulls 4 Hazlet Cobras 0
In the first group game against Hazlet Cobras, a team ranked 14 places higher in the NJ State Rankings, the Red Bulls came out the blocks quickly, finding themselves 3-0 up at half time. After excellent wing play from both Chris Baurkot and Noah Jefferies, Mattias Lopez opened the scoring with a lovely first time volley. A typical 1v1 breakaway by Noah Jefferies made it 2-0 not long after. And what had to be the goal of tournament came just before half-time, when Mike Harris’ scissor kick volley looped over the helpless Hazlet goalkeeper from 30-yards to make it 3-0. After hitting the woodwork twice, Mattias Lopez sealed the victory by rounding the opposition goalkeeper and sliding the ball into the empty net.
MVP: Johnny Hadlet – Solid defending, reading of the game and composure contributed towards the team’s clean sheet resulting in an additional tournament point.
Group Game 2: SHSC Red Bulls 2 Wyckoff Torpedoes Taranto 2
Heading into this game, the Red Bulls led the bracket by one point as Wyckoff had conceded a goal in their opening game 3-1 victory against Manalapan Heat. The Red Bulls went down 1-0 at half-time when the Wyckoff striker was allowed too much time in the penalty area to fire a shot past Joe Vitovitch. Halfway through the second half, Wyckoff doubled their lead with a well worked goal and finish beyond Andres Lezme. However, with less than 5-minutes left in the game, Mike Harris clipped a free kick into the opposition penalty area which took a lucky skip off the wet surface and bounced over the Wyckoff goalkeeper’s head straight into the goal – game on! The boys relentlessly pushed for an equalizer that would keep them at top spot in the bracket and thereby decided to sacrifice their shape with only Gabe Jefferies and Dylan Wachenfeld playing in defense. Eventually, the equalizer came. Coming from great defensive pressure in midfield from both Brian Zimmerman and Thomas Ehret forced the ball to the feet of Mike Harris who hit an outstanding driven shot into the bottom corner from, yet again, 30 yards!
MVP: Mattias Lopez – Constant diagonal runs into the channel and pressure on the opposition defensive line forced the Wyckoff defenders to drop closer and closer to their own goal.
Group Game 3: SHSC Red Bulls 3 Manalapan Heat 0
Knowing that a victory and clean sheet would take the Red Bulls into the final, Manalapan Heat did everything they could to break up any fluency that was created – thus leading to a tighter and much scrappier game than the scoreline suggests. Nevertheless, the Red Bulls were electric in attack in the first 15-minutes with the Manalapan defense struggling to handle the pace, aggression, creativity and work rate of the front 6 – Thomas Kirby, Thomas Ehret, Mike Harris, Tyler Davis, Noah Jefferies and Mattias Lopez. The first goal came early on when Noah Jefferies broke in behind the opposition backline and cut the ball back to Tyler Davis who timed his run perfectly from the back post to strike home. Noah Jefferies then sealed the victory, and secured a place in the final, with a right footed driven shot across the goalkeeper in the first half and a left footed finish in the second. Throughout the entire game, the Manalapan attack found it difficult to create any clear cut chances in and around the penalty area due to the organization and compactness of Gabe Jefferies, Brian Zimmerman, Dylan Wachenfeld and Johnny Hadlet in defense. Brian Zimmerman and Mike Harris were both cautioned for mistimed challenges in this hard fought victory.
MVP: Noah Jefferies – Two goals, one assists, sealed tournament final appearance.
Tournament Final: SHSC Red Bulls 3 New Egypt Bohemians 0
The final took place in mid-afternoon baking heat against New Egypt Bohemians; a team that had not only won their bracket quite convincingly, but had also won their previous 13 games. After a slow start the Red Bulls took the lead via the penalty spot, after Mattias Lopez was brought down by a New Egypt defender when 1v1 with the goalkeeper. Noah Jefferies put the New Egypt goalkeeper the wrong way by slotting the ball into the bottom right hand corner. 1-0 at half time. Noah Jefferies then extended the lead and scored his fifth goal of the tournament when he ran onto a through ball from Tyler Davis, rounded the goalkeeper and smashed the ball into the back of the net before the New Egypt defenders could get back in time. A solid defensive team performance in the second half then preceded a solo effort from Mike Harris who won the ball in midfield, drove past two opposition defenders and fired the ball into the roof of the net. The Red Bulls saw out the last five minutes to win 3-0 and lift the 2014 Manalapan Memorial Day Tournament trophy. This win ensured the SHSC U14B Red Bulls broke into the top 35 of the NJ Rankings.
MVP: Thomas Ehret – Captain’s performance; led by example by breaking up the play in the middle of the field and dragging the rest of the team across the finish line.
Tournament MVP: Mike Harris – Outstanding from start to finish, wonder goal in first game, two crucial goals against Wyckoff, and solo effort in the final.
For tournament results and standings, click here.