The highly anticipated Varsity soccer game between TABC Storm and Frisch Cougars lived up to all the pre-game hype. The teams had identical 6:1 records, but TABC had a tie-breaker as a result of a 3-2 victory over Frisch earlier in the season.
The game did not start well for TABC. Already undermanned at the beginning of the game, TABC lost its captain, Oren Strich, early in the first quarter as result of a collision with a Frisch defender. The Cougars began to build pressure on the TABC goal and soon took a 1-0 lead. Within minutes TABC tied the score on a well-executed free kick by Binyamin Zirman. The story repeated twice in the first half—Frisch would take the lead, and TABC would tie the game on a quick counter-attack, both goals scored by Ehud Adler. The first half finished tied at 3-3, but Frisch dominated the play. Without Oren Strich, TABC’s chances looked bleak.
Things changed drastically in the second half. Despite his painful injury, Strich returned to play. Inspired by their captain, Storm began to apply relentless pressure on Frisch, and quickly scored three goals (by Yishai Kaplan, Matan Meir and Jared Breen). Breen, unfortunately, was injured on the play and was not able to return. At the same time, TABC’s defense, led by Benjy Shulman, Ariel Hochman, and Yishai Kaplan, tightened up and denied most of Frisch’s attempts to shoot. A few times when the Cougars did manage a shot, TABC goalie Michael Feuerstein stood his ground, making several great saves. The entire TABC bench was contributing! The third quarter finished with the Storm leading 6-3.
Frisch scored the first goal in the 4th quarter to cut the deficit to two, but TABC quickly replied with three more scores, with Oren Strich involved in two of them, first scoring from a free kick after a brilliant heads-up assist from Benjy Shulman and then crossing the ball to set up Ehud Adler for a beautifully executed left foot one-timer.
The final score was 9-5, and the Storm won its first regular season NJ Division Championship in four years!
By Sam Shteingart