South Plainfield Tigers Stay Alive in State Tournament, Avoid Upset in Tough 2-1 Victory over Delaware Valley

Tigers nip Delaware Valley 2-1. Credits: Mak Ojutiku

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - No matter how hard it is to get, or how pretty it is, a win is a win, especially in the post-season. The South Plainfield High School boys soccer team needed a win more than anything else when they took on Delaware Valley on their home field today, in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 2 state tournament.

It certainly wasn't the most complete match the first seeded Tigers (15-6) have had this year, but at the end of the day, South Plainfield got what they needed. The Tigers started out strong with two early goals in the first 40 minutes, but second half errors seemingly put the game, and their season, in jeopardy. South Plainfield managed to hold on though, and a 2-1 victory over 16th seeded Delaware Valley (7-15) kept their season alive, and moved them one step further in the tournament.

“I thought it was the tale of two halves a little bit,” South Plainfield coach Anthony Perfilio said after the match. “First half I thought we played really well. I thought we controlled it and had a lot of opportunities to score. I think if we would've put some more of those opportunities away could've been six or seven goals.”

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“I think what happens is sometimes you have that 2-0 lead at halftime and you go in with a little extra security,” the coach added. “And then it just takes one opportunity, and when that opportunity comes the other team gets emotional and they score that goal and it becomes a game. We made a mistake in letting them get that goal, and it became a fight when it shouldn't have been a fight.”

Any South Plainfield supporter who thought the game was essentially over at halftime could be easily forgiven, as it only took the Tigers about a minute and a half to get in front. In the opening moments of the match, a ball sent in by Jacob Villacres ended up finding it’s way back to him, and the senior captain responded by chipping the ball in for the go-ahead goal.

The senior midfielder said he knew at the time that the goal wouldn’t be enough to decide the game.

“I just saw the opportunity and I shot it,” Villacres said. “It was a good goal, but I knew that wasn't going to be it.”

About 30 minutes into the half, fellow midfielder Jake Hoffman doubled his team’s lead when he knocked in a long range goal.

The Tigers kept the ball for the majority of the first half, and had many more chances to score during that time as well, as they outdrew their opponent 5-0 on first half corners. The game took a serious 180 in the second half though, as the Terriers started to get their fair share of the ball, which eventually led to a goal by Nick DeBetta.

“We came out strong in the first half. We were dominating possession, we were shooting and doing things the right way, and in the second half we kind of played to their level,” Villacres said. “We weren't passing as well, and we weren't getting the same opportunities that we got in the first half.”

The Tigers’ offense didn’t muster up much in the closing minutes of the game, but a few clutch plays from the defense and goalkeeper Nick Hosein allowed them to hold onto the lead and escape with the win.

It’s often said that a 2-0 lead is one of the most dangerous leads to have in soccer because of the overconfidence it sometimes endows, and after the game Perfilio said that may have played a part in their less than stellar second half.

The coach also said that if his players want to make a serious run in the tournament they have to do the simple things right, like taking fewer touches when they can, not holding the ball too much, and making the easy passes.

“I think the better teams they just do those things better,” Perfilio said. “Teams that don't do those simple things right, they tend to make those extra mistakes. Those (mistakes) lead to goals, and I think that's what happened in the second half. I give a lot of credit to Del Val, because they just did not stop. I told (my team) they wouldn't stop, and they proved it. Luckily we came out with a little scrappy win, and I'll take that every day.”

The Tigers will continue their tournament run when they take on 9th seeded Holmdel on Thursday.


Box Score





Delaware Valley (7-15)




South Plainfield (15-6)




Delaware Valley Team Stats



Delaware Valley Player Stats





Nick DiBetta




South Plainfield Team Stats



South Plainfield Player Stats





Marc Giordano




John Boyce




Jake Hoffman




Jacob Villacres




Nick Hosein (Goalie)




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