The season is less than a week old but both the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams at West Deptford High School have already experienced what it’s like to compete in a playoff-like atmosphere.
Unfortunately, they also know how it feels to lose to their biggest rival.
The Haddonfield boys’ soccer team opened the day with a 2-1 win over West Deptford at Scout Field and the Bulldawgs girls followed suit with a 1-0 win under the lights at West Deptford Park.
The victories give each Haddonfield team a leg up in the Colonial Conference Liberty Division.
“It’s unfortunate that this game is so early,” said West Deptford senior Megan Knoblock. “We have mostly been training and running and haven’t had a lot of opportunity to do some possession, but we are just going to keep moving forward from this.”
The Haddonfield boys pulled out a hard-fought win thanks to a late goal from last year’s leading scorer, Alex Johnston. With 16 minutes left in regulation and the score tied, Haddonfield sweeper Isaac Anderson floated in a high arcing free kick from 30 yards out that bounced around the box before Johnston fired it home.
“I hadn’t been really kicking it the way I wanted to the entire game and then I finally got up to the last one and knew I had to put it in,” said Anderson. “I put all my power into it, got it into the box where I wanted it to be, we got a scrum and got the goal.”
Haddonfield got on the board first on a first-half goal by Johnny Alemi, but West Deptford answered back a couple minutes later when Joey Mingrino found the back of the net.
“It’s always tough to come on this field and play against these guys,” said new West Deptford head coach Steve Jakubowski. “We faced a lot of adversity and we didn’t overcome the ultimate goal, be we did overcome (giving up) the first goal, which is a first for us so far this season.”
West Deptford played step for step with Haddonfield for much of the first half, but the Bulldawgs got the better of play in the second half, a point of frustration for the Eagles.
“We kind of lost ourselves in the middle of the field the entire second half,” said Jakubowski. “We implemented what we were doing very well in the beginning—the first 20-25 minutes we did what we talked about doing—and then in the second half we dropped off a little bit.”
On the girls’ side, it was Abigail Czemiecki who provided the game’s only offense when she fired in a goal that was set up by a free kick in the 11th minute. That proved to be more than enough offense, as the Bulldawgs defense allowed just two shots on goal, which were easily handled by freshman keeper Juliana Kadar.
“They like to play on the set piece and we like to play possession,” said Knoblock. “They got away with it (Monday night). We just need to adjust a little bit. We panicked a little tonight because it’s Haddonfield and it’s such a huge game, but I think if we get another shot at them, we can calm down and continue to play the soccer that we know how to play and not just kick and run.”
The Bulldawgs have now one three straight 1-0 contests against the Eagles, a credit to their bend-don’t break defensive style.
“Our philosophy has always been, for the nine years I have been here, bend don’t break,” said Haddonfield coach Glen Gess. “We don’t take chances. If we are going to give up something, you are going to earn it. That’s how we have always played it. We try to keep things tight, force play to the outsides and see if we can pop it over the top and send some forwards on the attack.”
West Deptford coach Veronica McGinniss said much of her teams offensive woes against the rival Bulldawgs are the result of being a little too pumped up.
“I wouldn’t say it is necessarily their system as much as it is our kids and their nerves,” said McGinniss. “I don’t know why, but they always get so excited about Haddonfield and it ends up getting the best of them…I just think we got taken out of our game and didn’t play the way we were supposed to.”