The Vipers closed out the regular season of the Mid New Jersey Youth Soccer Association Travel League with a 3-1 win over the Milburn SC Avalanche at the West Orange High School on Sunday May 22, 2011, to remain unbeaten in flight three of the boys U-16 division. The Vipers struck through Dominic Byfield in the 28th minute, Agustin Silva in the 43rd and Danny Maya in the 78th. Bret Dinowitz got the Avalanche’s consolation in the 45th minute.
After an even start with both teams taking some time to settle into their rhythm, it was the Vipers who struck first with the prolific Byfield bagging his 8th goal of the season. The goal came at a time when the Avalanche was starting to exert some pressure on the Vipers defense through the skilful Dinowitz, Casey Geller, Adam Israel and Jesse Sendyk. On 27 minutes, Marcus Salazar recovered the ball for the vipers and played a long diagonal ball down the left to pick out Michael Zarro whose cross caused some confusion in the Avalanche defense allowing Byfield to slot home comfortably from inside 18 yards.
The Avalanche stepped up the pressure in search of an equalizer and were almost justly rewarded in the 40th minute when Michael Vargas brought down Israel about 25 yards from goal. Alexander Hornecker stepped up from his central defensive role to take the free kick, but put his left footed effort was just wide of the goal. The half ended 1-0 to the hosts, and with the Avalanche down to 10 men through injury. They only had 11 in their travelling party.
Straight after the restart the Vipers made their numerical advantage count, putting the Avalanche defense under immense pressure. In the 43rd minute, Hornecker and Benjamin Goldman in the Avalanche defense, failed to deal with the ball inside the goal area allowing Silva to pounce and poke home the Vipers 2nd.
Dinowitz’s industry paid off in the 45th minute when he was the first to react to Casey Geller’s flick on from another Hornecker free kick and calmly tuck the ball away pass the hapless Alex Goldman in the Vipers goal. The goal seemed to breathe new life into the Avalanche who started to press for the equalizer.
Their already depleted squad suffered another blow in the 50th minute when their goal scorer and best player on the day, Bret Dinowitz, pulled up injured and could play no further part in the game.
Now down to nine men, it was very unlikely that the Avalanche could restore parity to the game, but they never stopped trying. In the 50th minute Israel skillfully wove his way down the left but could not find the finish to match his run. In the end, the effort on goal was poor.
The Vipers then started to impose themselves on the game even more with Bryan Brufau and Derrick Marshall easily controlling the midfield. Brufau played Byfield through with a deft chip pass on 59 minutes, but his onetime effort was expertly saved by Nathaniels in the Avalanche goal, diving to his right. Chase Bridgers then emerged from his role in central defense in the 61st minute to strike a sweet shot from 25 yards out that cannoned off the crossbar with Nathaniels Comprehensively beaten in the Avalanche goal.
It was all one way traffic for the next five minutes with the Avalanche pinned down in their half of the field. After some good work down the left by Zarro and Silva, Bridgers had another effort on goal in the 63rd minute. This time, his effort cleared the bar and failed to trouble the keeper. Zarro was at it again in the 66th minute, making light work of his marker before playing Vargas in on goal. His shot was turned around the right upright by the goalkeeper for a Viper corner.
The pressure was then relieved briefly and the Avalanche almost clawed their way back into the game with yet another Hornecker free kick. This time he cleverly disguised his chip into the box for Zachary Aronson to flick on, but Goldman was alert and saved comfortably in the Vipers goal.
At the other end Vargas shot wide of the mark and Brufau riffled another effort straight at the keeper who saved comfortably. Then, on 78 minutes, with Hornecker pushed up from his defensive position in search of an equalizer, Vargas ghost his way past Benjamin Haymes down the right hand side before pulling the ball back to Maya who made no mistake from 12 yards out. In the dying stages the prolific Vargas raced clear of the Avalanche defense and was one on one with the goalkeeper, but failed to add to his impressive season’s tally of 15 goals after putting his shot wide of the far post.
So 3-1 it ended to the flight winners who will now meet flight two winners Bloomfield Cheetahs in the playoffs.
After the game an elated Carlo Porcaro, manager of the Vipers, said he is hoping that the team uses the same formula in the playoffs; keep it simple, move the ball around and communicate with each other. Head Coach Nansha Kalonji said he wants them to continue to improve and display more comfort on the ball. He wants better connection from defense to midfield and more relaxation and comfort up front. He is hoping for much more shooting from his attacking force in the playoffs.