The year's best game had 2 winning teams
The 2008 boys' season had much to recommend it.
Here are some memorable moments of this year's boy's soccer season:
Who said there couldn't be drama in a tied game? Delran and Cliffside Park played to a 2-2 draw in the state Group 2 final, ending as co-champions.
It was probably fitting considering that both teams played like champions. Delran looked finished when Cliffside Park took a 2-1 lead with just 1 minute, 14 seconds left in regulation. As the Cliffside Park fans were getting ready to head to the field for a victory celebration, they had to take a sudden U-turn after Delran junior Dominic Nocito scored nine seconds later to tie the score and send the game into overtime.
After two action-packed but scoreless 10-minute overtimes, the two were declared co-champions. Both teams have a young nucleus, and it would not be a surprise if they met again next season to settle matters in Group 2.
Most exciting player
Willingboro's Ansger Otto displayed breathtaking ability whenever he had the ball. He scored 47 goals, but the manner in which he scored is what separated him from most players. Otto had the ability to create space for himself even in traffic, and he had a shot that was among the hardest in South Jersey. Few players in South Jersey could ever dribble the ball at such a high speed as Otto, who was always ready to attack the defender. Originally from Ghana, Otto scored 90 career goals in three varsity seasons at Willingboro.
The Burlington County Liberty Division produced two state champions and another sectional champion. Rancocas Valley and Delran were state champions. Moorestown won the South Jersey Group 3 crown and was also the only team to beat Rancocas Valley, defeating the Red Devils, 4-3, in the finals of the South Jersey Coaches Tournament.
Bordentown, the only team to tie Rancocas Valley, also resided in the Liberty. Plus, Cinnaminson was a South Jersey Group 2 finalist, and Burlington Township advanced to the semifinals of the Central Jersey playoffs.
Delran's only losses came to Rancocas Valley and Moorestown.
There was a fear that putting so many top teams in one division would cause everybody to wear down, but it did the opposite. Playing at such a high level during division play elevated the performance of most of the Liberty Division teams.
Senior Sean Harper had not been seeing much time during the playoffs for Rancocas Valley, but he made the most of an opportunity in the South Jersey Group 4 championship against Toms River East.
Harper was inserted with about nine minutes to go in a scoreless first half, and his energy picked up the level of play for his teammates. He was so impressive that coach Damon Petras had Harper play most of the second half, and it paid off when he scored the lone goal with less than four minutes remaining.
Toms River East might have been the best team that Rancocas Valley played in the state tournament, and Harper will always be remembered for scoring one of the biggest goals of the season in South Jersey.
The most competitive race was in the Tri-County Royal, where Clearview, Williamstown and Cumberland all earned the right to shout, "We're No. 1." (Good thing these three were not in the BCS.) All three earned a share of the Royal Division title. Clearview beat Williamstown twice and lost twice to Cumberland. Besides beating Clearview twice, Cumberland also lost twice to Williamstown.
What an offense
For those who liked scoring, Middle Township was the team to see. The Panthers finished 20-4 and won the South Jersey Group 2 championship. They scored 101 goals, averaging 4.356 per game.
Senior Austin Johnson, who has committed to La Salle, led the Panthers with 29 goals. Classmate Kevin Lombardo had 25 goals, and seniors Zach Todd and Adam Miller scored 19 and 11 for coach John Maher's team.
Bill Siteman is a Cape Atlantic League soccer fan who keeps extensive statistics of both the boys' and girls' teams. He dispenses reports, usually three times a week, to reporters. In his mind, anything that helps the sport and to give the youngsters some exposure is worth putting in the time. Siteman's efforts are appreciated by all in the soccer community.