RANDOLPH, NJ- Using balanced scoring on offense and their typical stingy defense, The Randolph Rams boys soccer team advanced to the semi-finals of the Morris County Tournament by defeating Jefferson 3-1 on Sunday Oct. 9.

The Rams improved to 7-2-2 on the season, enjoying a successful start to 2016, despite losing their top two scorers and top defender from last season.

“Coach has been preaching work ethic and teamwork this season,” said Rams goalie and team captain Evan Miele. “I think we really have a strong bond between all the guys on this team this year, and that has helped us.”

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Michael Lauria got the Rams on the board first, sending the ball into the Falcons net off a header for a 1-0 lead.

“There was a foul in the corner by the flag,” said Lauria.  “Nick Panvini crossed the ball into the box and perfectly layed it right on my head.  I just put it in the back of the net.” 

In the second half, the Rams struck at the 32 minute mark to take a 2-0 lead on a beautiful header from Chris Ross. 

Michael Panvini pushed the ball up the left side of the field, firing a cross into the box past the front of the net.  Ross, who was on the back side of the net, leapt and knocked a header back across the goal mouth to the opposite side.  Jefferson’s goaltender was racing across the front of the goal, and was caught dead in his tracks as the ball snuck inside the post for a 2-0 Rams lead.

Jefferson answered back at the 23 minute mark with their own goal off a header on a similar play. The Falcons score came off a corner kick that again was knocked in from the back post across to the opposite side.

The Rams again took control and carried play in the Jefferson zone for most of the rest of the game.  Shane Ebenth put the nail in the coffin when he scored with three minutes remaining.

Panvini once again made a strong rush up field, this time on the right side before centering the ball to Ebneth just outside the 18.  Ebneth collected the ball, turned and fired with his left foot past the goalie and into the net for a 3-1 lead.

The balanced scoring was a positive for the Rams, who are currently missing their other captain and leading scorer Michael Galipo who is out with an injury.

“We are waiting for him to come back, and we are not sure when that will be, it might be a little while,” said Lauria.  “But we are trying to get through, push on without him, and win some games for him.  When he comes back we know we will be better.” 

The Rams kept the Falcons away from their net most of the game, making for an easy day of work for Miele.

“Our back line has been so good this year,” said Miele.  “Danny, Cam, Justin, and Kyle have played excellent in front of me.  Honestly, we all have good communication and it is a team effort keeping the ball out of our own net.”

When asked for any final thoughts on the game, Miele stated, “I was definitely pleased with our effort, and even though we didn’t get a shutout it was a big win and we are looking forward to playing Morristown in the semifinals.”

The County Semi-Finals game is Sunday Oct. 16, at home against Morristown.