Cape teams proving prowess in Coaches Tournament

Posted: October 25, 2013

The beauty of the Coaches Tournament lies in the matchups it produces.

Big schools play small schools. Conferences don't matter. It's a way to crown a true South Jersey champion.

And for Cape-Atlantic League teams, it's a chance to make a statement.

"A lot of times, people think all of the good teams are up in the Cherry Hill area. They might not give us as much credit," Ocean City boys' soccer coach Aaron Bogushefsky said.

"And it's true - there are a lot of great teams up there. But tournaments like the Coaches Tournament are opportunities for us to represent the CAL, to prove that we can hang with any team."

Ocean City, in its first Coaches Tournament since 2007, earned the No. 6 seed and is one of two Cape-Atlantic teams still alive in the Coaches Tournament, which is down to eight teams.

The Red Raiders will face No. 3 West Deptford in a quarterfinal Friday. No. 5 Middle Township is set to play No. 4 Rancocas Valley in another quarterfinal. The semifinals for both the boys' and girls' tournaments will take place Sunday at Paul VI.

"It's an honor to even be invited to this tournament," Bogushefsky said. "We're just enjoying the ride."

Ocean City (12-2-1), ranked No. 5 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, bounced back nicely from a 6-9-4 campaign in 2012. The team fields most of the same players from last year's squad.

"But we've just gotten a lot faster, we got a lot smarter, and we're far more experienced," Bogushefsky said. "The team is just showing tremendous resiliency this year. No matter what happens in a game, they just seem to always bounce back. They could be down, they could be up, but they never quit."

The team is led by senior forward Zack Sakena but is well-rounded all over the field.

"We have more goal-scoring ability than we've had since I've been here," said Bogushefsky, who took over as Ocean City coach in 2008.

"And our defense has been very solid as well."

Girls' matchups. It's hard to ignore the obvious in the girls' Coaches Tournament.

On one end of the bracket is top-seeded Eastern. On the other end is No. 2 Lenape.

The two bitter rivals are overwhelming favorites to advance to the tournament final. Last year, Eastern and Lenape split the title after a draw in the championship game.

Lenape went on to beat Eastern in the sectional Group 4 final.

This year, the two teams tied, 3-3, in their first meeting before Eastern topped Lenape, 2-1, in a bit of an upset the second time around, on Oct. 8.

The stage is set for another chapter in one of the state's best all-around high school sports rivalries.

There will be other solid matchups along the way.

The two quarterfinals not including Lenape or Eastern will be among the more interesting games in South Jersey girls' soccer this season, as all of the top six teams in The Inquirer rankings are still alive in the tournament, which is in its quarterfinals.

Holy Cross (14-0-1), ranked No. 4, will play No. 5 Williamstown (13-1-1). And No. 3 Shawnee (9-3-3) will face No. 6 Moorestown (13-1-1).

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