SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD — Colin Dwyer and Alvaro Furfaro’s emergence as potent scoring options for Scotch Plains-Fanwood have uncoincidentally run parallel with the Raiders’ resurgence these last three games. At the beginning of the year, the Raiders truly were in search of “that guy” who could finish up top. Since switching to the 4-4-2, it looks like Scotch Plains-Fanwood and head coach Tom Breznitsky have now found their men.
Dwyer and Furfaro scored 30 seconds apart in the second half — both their third consecutive games with a goal — to sever a scoreless deadlock in the second half as the Raiders scored a major statement win, 2-1, over a powerhouse Delran team Tuesday afternoon at Wexler Field. Owen Murphy and Ryan Widman came up with assists on the offense, which once again flourished in the 4-4-2 formation that has yielded nine goals in the three games since it was instilled last week.
With Tuesday’s victory, the Raiders have now out-scored opponents, 9-1, in their previous three contests. Dwyer and Furfaro account for a seven of those nine goals.
“We’re definitely playing with some confidence now that we’ve found our identity,” Dwyer told TAPintoSPF after Tuesday’s match. “At the beginning, we were sort of trying to figure out how we were going to play. But now we’re definitely finding out identity and really playing with some confidence going forward.”
Delran is perennially among the top programs in South Jersey, as the Bears’ legacy includes eight state championships and they are often highly placed in the state rankings. This year is no exception. From the time they were added to the Raiders schedule in the spring, this was a date both teams had circled on their calendars.
The match lived up to its billing with a scoreless deadlock through the first 50 minutes until a hot hand broke the ice. Dwyer put away a loose ball in the box originally played by Murphy, crashing the keeper and tapping it into the net to give the Raiders a lead they wouldn’t relent. Dwyer has now scored in all three games since the Raiders switched to the 4-4-2 last week. The goals happen to be the first three goals of his varsity career and are a major reason why the team is 3-0 in that five-day span.
“It’s been crazy,” Dwyer said of his emergence this calendar week. “After coach gave me a chance, I was really trying to prove myself out there and put the team in the best position to succeed.”
“I’ve definitely played in [the 4-4-2] before, and I feel that it suits us more because now we can sub in some different guys who definitely bring some energy to the field,” he added. “That really changed the feel of the game, because when you have everyone come into the game hard with all this energy, it really raised the level of everybody.”
Dwyer made a grand appearance to the varsity stage last Thursday, when he scored his first career varsity goal in the second half against Plainfield to provide the Raiders with insurance in a 4-0 victory, which snapped a two-game losing skid. In the Raiders’ next game this past Saturday, Dwyer again scored in a 3-0 win at South Plainfield, in which he also dished out an assist.
The senior wasn't necessarily high on the team's radar at the beginning of the year, but is now front and center of what the Raiders hope is a championship season.
“From the time I’ve played with him when I was in fifth grade, I’ve known what he can do,” said Widman. “I know he’s quick and I know he works hard. He’s gone in there, coach has trusted to put him in, and he’s earned his right to stay on the field. He’s really scored some big goals for us.”
The celebration from Dwyer’s goal was not even finished before the Raiders got on the board again.
On the team’s literal next possession, Alvaro Furfaro was there to finish a ball from Widman to extend the lead to 2-0. Like Dwyer, Furfaro has been an absolute force up top during the team’s hot streak, now having scored four goals — three during the run of play, another on a PK — in those three games.
While Furfaro has been a three-year mainstay, whereas Dwyer is a newcomer, both have emerged as the team’s hottest scoring options. They have been there to finish, while the Raiders’ midfield — now armed with wing midfielders in the diamond-shaped midfield of the 4-4-2 — creates much better chances and allows for much more of the team’s depth to be used.
“Dwyer hasn’t been a starter, but we bought him up and he’s had several good goals for us,” said Breznitsky. “Of course, Widman and Alvaro are guys we’ve been using. We have several guys that we’ve been mixing up. When we went and changed to a 4-4-2, it allowed us to use more guys, especially wing midfield guys, which were getting stuck up front. That then allowed us to rotate guys up top. We had six, seven different guys up top — and some of them have pace.”
Delran did get on the board in the 64th when Ryan Burrell finished on a Raider defensive miscue to make it 2-1. But aside from that lapse, the Raiders were able to contain the potent Bears offense for 79 minutes.
“We knew from the start that they were going to come out hard," Widman said. "We just wanted to go harder and we know that if we play as hard as we can, we will compete and have a good chance to beat any team in the state.”