Middletown, N.J. - Things are clicking at the right time for the Middletown South boys soccer team, who continued its recent tear on Tuesday afternoon with an impressive victory over Barnegat in the opening round of the Shore Conference Tournament.
The No.10 seeded Eagles scored four goals for the second straight game in a row, rolling to a 4-0 victory over the No. 23 seeded Bengals to advance to the Shore Conference Tournament round of 16 and improve to 8-3-3 on the season.
“We have a lot of seniors on our team, and they made a lot of big plays to help us win,” said Middletown South boys soccer coach Rob Grella. “Our guys came out hustling hard in the second half and made some great plays.”
Middletown South had four different scorers crack the goal column in its win, starting with Aaron Oliveira scoring the game’s first goal.
A scoreless game entering the final 12 minutes of the first half, Oliveria scored his first goal since returning to the lineup from injury for the Eagles.
The junior raced into the Barnegat zone untouched and struck home his second goal of the season with 11:29 left in the first half to put Middletown South up 1-0.
“It’s nice to have Aaron (Oliveria) back healthy,” Grella said. “He had a nice breakaway goal. Having him and Alex (Sigua) back in our lineup up top and healthy is really exciting for us.”
Only going into the half up 1-0, Grella reminded his club that this would most likely be their last home game this season and that they couldn’t have any let-downs like they had in the first half to ensure themselves of a victory.
The Eagles responded to their coaches challenge with authority to begin the second half, having junior Matt Glynn and senior Danny Minze lead the charge.
Glynn began the Middletown South scoring brigade in the first 10 minutes of the second half, launching in his team-high 11th goal of the season to extend the Middletown South lead to 2-0.
The junior has scored a goal in two straight games for Middletown South. It’s the fourth time this season that Glynn has scored at least one goal in back-to-back contests.
“We came out slow in the first half and realized we had to come out harder in the second half to beat (Barnegat),” Glynn said. “We did come out playing harder and were able to put in a few goals.”
Minze continued the Middletown South offensive attack just a few minutes later in the 53rd minute.
After getting fouled and earning a free kick from around the 10-yard line, Minze took advantage of the opportunity and boomed in his sixth goal of the season to make it a 3-0 lead for the Eagles.
“Coach (Grella) gave us an inspiring halftime speech, and we came out firing. Winning balls and then putting a few in the back of the net,” Minze said. “It’s great to be a playmaker for this team. Scoring goals and helping set goals. Feels great to come out with the guys and get a Shore Conference Tournament win."
Middletown South added to its lead nine minutes later on the leg of Sigua.
Scoring his first two goals of the season in his return to the lineup from injury in Saturday’s win over Raritan, the senior punched in his third goal in two games to close out the Middletown South victory with a bang.
Off a nice little feed from teammate Matt Cozzi, Sigua flicked in Middletown South’s fourth goal of the contest and the Eagles were firmly on their way to the Shore Conference Tournament round of 16.
Junior goalkeeper Austin Carter had three saves in the shutout win for the Eagles. It’s Middletown South’s fourth shutout of the season.
Middletown South is 5-0-2 in its last seven games played.
“We’re clicking at the right time,” Grella said. “If we play hard and don’t have any let-downs, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
The Eagles will face No. 7 seed Southern Regional in the next round of the Shore Conference Tournament.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports