On Monday, the Hopewell Valley boys soccer team played in the semi-finals of the NJSIAA Central, Group 3 state tournament. Hopewell was matched up against Steinert, whom they had previously beaten 2-1, however this time they were without the injured Nick Tagliareni.
Hopewell and Steinert were stalemated all the way up until halftime, however Steinert was controlling the game. Five minutes into the second half, Steinert broke through Hopewell’s defense and scored. However, Hopewell quickly responded with a beautiful goal by Alex Luedecke from outside of the 18-yard box to tie the game. This goal shifted the momentum to the Bulldogs who started controlling the match. When Steinert’s star centerback was substituted off because of a yellow card, the Bulldogs took advantage and Alex Tagliareni was able to slip a goal in after the ball bounced around in the box after the free kick. This ended the game 2-1, with Hopewell pushing on to the sectional final.
Hopewell played Long Branch in the sectional final on Thursday, in a very close and exciting game. The game started with an early and unconventional goal from Chris Turnbull. When taking a corner kick the ball curved towards the goal, and when the goalkeeper caught the ball it was already completely over the goal line. The Bulldogs continued to control the game and had multiple chances, with Tom Hooks scoring one off of a pass from Kamil Moisionek. Although Hopewell worked better as a team, Long Branch had one exceptional player who created multiple chances with his dribbling and speed. He managed to score one after dribbling from midfield past a few defenders and scoring from inside the 6-yard box. However, Hopewell were able to hold onto their lead to win 2-1, making them the Central Jersey Group 3 section champions.
Hopewell will be playing Cherry Hill West, the winner of the South Jersey Group 3 section, on Tuesday in the Group 3 State semi-finals. – Christopher Sawicki
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