Players for the West Deptford High School boys’ soccer team embrace the opportunity to play games under the lights at Webber Field in West Deptford Park. It's easy to understand why since night games put a spotlight on the sport and often see much greater crowd support.
One of the benefits that can at times go unnoticed is the availability of freshman and JV players to get an up close look at the varsity team.
Monday night those players got an up-close view of what can result from hard work and dedication at the lower levels.
Sophomore Griffin Crowley—who started the season playing JV—broke a scoreless tie with a laser from 25 yards out, lifting West Deptford to a 2-0 win over Sterling in Colonial Conference action.
His goal sparked a brief celebration and fueled the Eagles’ to their third win in five games.
“I was really pumped,” said Crowley. “There’s nothing like the feeling of scoring your first goal for varsity.”
First-year head coach Steve Jakubowski touted the work ethic of Griffin, saying he is the type of player that does whatever is asked of him.
“He’s been stepping up big time,” Jakubowski said. “He has been progressing every day. He is the type of kid that you can say, ‘Hey Griffin, I need you to play here or play here’ and he will do it. He started out in the middle for us at the JV level. He kept working and doing the things we asked him to and now you see everything pay off. As a sophomore he’s someone we are looking to get a lot out of in the future, and for this year he is proving to be a big part of our success.”
Griffin was inserted off the bench into a left midfield position. With 22 minutes left in regulation, Griffin stepped into a shot from the near side of the field and rocketed it into the right corner of the net.
“As soon as I saw the goalies hands go up and I saw his eyes I kind of knew it was going to go in,” Crowley. “I can’t even explain it, but it’s a good feeling.”
The impact of a young player succeeding in front of a big crowd was not lost on Jakubowski.
“It’s huge because there’s always a ton of JV and freshmen kids in the stands,” Jakubowski said. “I know that from a coach’s standpoint it is awesome to see because they know Griffin started (at JV) and ended up here, so everybody sees that they can do the same thing.”
Kevin Keane added a goal with five minutes to go to seal the win. Brendan Gill made five saves to record his first-career shutout.
Monday’s game was the first of four for this week for the Eagles. That marks a drastic turnaround for a team that had a pair of games postponed last week.
The Eagles certainly had the look of a team that was hungry to play.
“I thought tonight was the first time we came out from the first whistle, which was huge,” Jakubowski said. “So far we have been down and had to battle back. I don’t know what happened tonight but they seemed in the zone. We hadn’t played (a conference game) in a week so I think they were ready to play and were fired up.”