BRIDGEWATER — One of the most intriguing out-of-conference matchups on Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s schedule is their annual early season showdown with Bridgewater-Raritan. The two perennial powerhouses have played some outstanding games in their yearly September clashes, and almost always exchange blows deep in the state tournament.
But on Saturday, it was about as one-sided as a match can get.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood (7-0) stayed scolding hot and posted its most lopsided, complete effort of the season in a 4-0 victory at Bridgewater-Raritan, which knocked the Raiders out of the state tournament in 2017 and also beat them in the regular season. The Raiders scored once in the first half and three times in the second, outshooting their opponents 12-4.
Zidan Abdella scored twice — both in the second half — while Ryan Widman and Jonathan Koseoglu added goals for the Raiders. Keeper Eric Refinski notched his second consecutive shutout in goal.
“There’s several schools that we owe payback,” Raiders head coach Tom Breznitsky said. “North Brunswick, Cranford, Westfield, and now Bridgewater. Those are five schools who beat us last year. It’s good to see our pride and see we aren’t where we were last year.”
After Widman finished a deflected shot from Thomas Rodriguez to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead 32 minutes in and Jonathan Koseoglu extended it to 2-0 in the 51st minutes out of halftime, Abdella took over and put it to bed.
Having scored in four straight games entering the match, Abdella extended the streak when he drilled a PK after getting taken out in the box 15 minutes into the second half. Four minutes later, he put the finishing touches on a successful afternoon by finishing a point-blank shot off a flick over top from Alvaro Furfaro.
Now with a team-best eight goals, Abdella is one away from matching his 2017-leading mark of nine.
“It just feels great to help the team out,” Abdella said. “Disappointed I could’t get a third today, but I helped the team with two goals and we got a good win over this team — definitely dominated them.”
What makes the Raiders so dangerous is how a host of players join Abdella up top. Rodriguez has been lethal this season, and Widman is always in the thick of things, too.
In the 32nd minute after the Raiders were relentless on applying pressure, Rodriguez fired a wicked shot from the left flank with such such force that it bounced off the hands of Panthers keeper Steve Velastig before the goal line. Widman was there to finish it into the left corner, giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
Jonathan Koseoglu is another dangerous player up top for the Raiders, and extended the lead to 2-0 moments out of halftime when he finished buried a strike dead center in the 18 box.
Koseoglu and Widman now have a combined five goals this year, and have been invaluable reinforcements up top.
Once the Raiders went ahead, they had little trouble protecting the lead. The team has now posted over 160 minutes of shutout soccer, and senior keeper Eric Refinski notched his second shutout in consecutive starts.
Refinski faced just four shots Saturday, as the Raiders’ seasoned midfield and backline — made up of Alex Levy, Joey Linder, and Michael Dieu for the greater portion — shutdown the Panthers’ relatively inexperienced and young attack.
“It’s nice to be in and I’m just trying to do my job now,” Refinski said. “Not a very active game for me, which I’m proud of my team about. My backline and defense is playing phenomenal. I have the utmost confidence in my team right now.”