WEST CALDWELL, NJ — At the James Caldwell Chiefs’ newly revised Bonnel Field, the Chiefs boys’ soccer battled and fell to the West Essex Knights, Caldwell's biggest rival, on a wet and cloudy Saturday afternoon. The Chiefs rallied with two goals with 10 minutes to go, but the Knights came out on top with a final score of 3-2.
Going into this match, the Knights had a struggling record of two wins, four losses and a single draw. Cameron Barrett of the Knights was heading into Caldwell leading the team with three goals.
The Knights were at a record of four wins and five losses and were looking to even up their record at five a piece. Goal scoring for the Chiefs was on the shoulders of Danny Cavallo, who leads the team with an impressive six goals. Behind Cavallo in goals is TJ Hrenuik, clocking in at five goals.
West Essex started with the ball, but was cut short when Caldwell's Steven Blas came firing in with an early interception. Only two minutes into this head-to-head rivalry, West Essex got on the board after a cross was sent in and headed past Caldwell’s goalkeeper, Connor Reddan.
Caldwell’s first chance was generated by senior and forward, Alex Nicol, who delivered a powerful shot that was blocked by the Knights. The blocks continued as an attempt by the Chiefs’ Gianmarco Catazone was shut down.
In the eighth minute, Hrenuik, who went on to have one of the best showings of the day for the Chiefs, nearly put his team on the board, but his shot soared well wide of the net.
A missed long shot by the Knights fueled the fire for them as they scored a minute later when a one-on-one chance slotted the ball into the bottom right corner, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Knights.
The Chiefs’ first big defensive play came from midfielder, Nick Lim, after preventing another one-on-one threat. With fifteen minutes left in the first half, Alex Nicol used his speed to get past a couple of defenders and took a shot, but the keeper for the Knights, Nick Cerrigone, had a better save. This was Caldwell’s first shot on target.
West Essex had another opportunity that should have been a goal, but Reddan stepped up and made a big save, knocking the ball off the crossbar to save his team.
Caldwell was trailing 2-0 in the second half. Caldwell’s two goal scorers, Cavallo and Hrenuik, worked together on a play that would turn into the wildest shot of the game when Hrenuik took a shot with his weak foot and the ball sailed left of the net.
With 15 minutes remaining, a free kick was awarded to the Knights that was initially blocked, but the Knights were there to pick up the pieces and scored by tapping the ball into the back of the net.
West Essex was in total control, up 3-0. A minute after the third goal, Nicol cut through multiple defenders with some well-executed chops, but his shot that flew over the crossbar.
Caldwell’s Sean Kinney made a crucial defensive play near the end of the game, clearing the Knights’ chances of scoring a fourth goal after some inconsistency in his defending throughout the game.
With just under to minutes to play, Catazone of Caldwell delivered the ball to Cavallo, who in turn sent it across the field to Nicol, who put Caldwell on the board for the first time that game.
The risky tackles continued when sophomore Nick Pyontek made a rough challenge inside the box, ultimately preventing the Knights from a 4-1 lead. Caldwell began pouring on the shots near the closing of this match.
Hrenuik made a rough tackle to get the ball of one of the Knights in the defensive area of West Essex. His tackle led to Nicol getting his second goal of the day by chipping the keeper, making it 3-2 with only two minutes remaining, starting a rally for the Chiefs.
However, this rally turned into nothing as the West Essex Knights came out on top 3-2.
The Knights finished the game with nine shots, eight on target, for 89-percent accuracy on goal. The Chiefs had more shots compared to their opponents, only fewer on target with a total of fourteen shots and nine on target.
When it came to the corners department, West Essex was heavily in favor with six corners to Caldwell's one corner.
Caldwell hopes to get back in the winning column when they take on Montville next Saturday away from home at 1:00 p.m.
This article was written by Justin Kuczborski, a James Caldwell High School student participating in the TAPinto West Essex internship program.