Red Devils settle for shared title

Posted: November 20, 2004

The Rancocas Valley boys' soccer team headed to The College of New Jersey looking to win the NJSIAA Group 4 state championship. And that's what the Red Devils did - sort of.

Rancocas Valley and Kearny were named cochampions last night after the squads played through a scoreless regulation and two 10-minute overtimes.

"It's still a state championship," said first-year coach Damon Petra, whose Red Devils were making their first state championship appearance. "We are happy. We would have like to have won. But it's still the first state championship in school history."

With the tie, Rancocas Valley finished the season with a 20-3-1 record and was unbeaten in its last seven matches.

Meanwhile, the Kardinals wound up with a 20-3-2 mark after winning their second state title in three years.

"I feel a little excited," said Red Devil goalkeeper Zach Anderson, "but mostly, I'm disappointed. I hate having things end in a tie. It's just like everyone tried their hardest, and we just end up with nothing, almost.

"I would play as many overtimes as it takes to finish this game."

It didn't take long to realize that Rancocas Valley was facing a team with a solid tradition.

Peeking over at the Kearny side of the field, one would have thought this was a football game.

Not only did the Kardinals bring their cheerleaders, Kearny's marching band took up the top rows of the right side of the visitor's stands. And there were at least five male teenagers standing behind the Kardinals' bench, with letters on their otherwise bare chests.

In Kearny, Rancocas Valley was facing a team that headed into the match with 17 North Jersey Section 1 titles and 13 state crowns.

The Kardinals' last state championship came in 2002 when they defeated Shawnee.

Rancocas Valley, however, didn't appear to be in awe of Kearny's school spirit and impressive resume.

Both teams played through a scoreless first half. And for the majority of that time, the ball was in the Kardinals' territory.

The Red Devils even had a chance to score with 13 minutes, 29 seconds before intermission.

But while streaking toward the goal, Rancocas Valley reserve forward Richard Anderson couldn't get a ball that was headed to him right in front Kearny goalkeeper Steve Alonso.

The Kardinals had a chance to score less than two minutes later.

But Red Devils defender Andreas Kustas deflected a free kick from around 29 yards out.

The Kardinals then had a great scoring opportunity in the second half. However, Jay Fartura kicked the ball over the net with a little less than 19 minutes to play.

It looked as of Rancocas Valley was going to get on the scoreboard with 6:15 left in regulation.

Thomas Dunn crossed the ball to Frankie Koneschusky, who was 12 yards out. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, Koneschusky's kick sailed wide right of the goal.

Contact suburban staff writer Keith Pompey at 856-779-3826 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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