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Shawnee wins NJ Group 3 State Championship

 
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:57 am    Post subject: Shawnee wins NJ Group 3 State Championship Reply with quote

From the Burlington County Times

EWING — All season they played a game built around speed. Built around skill.

And steeped in tradition.

Last night, the Shawnee High School boys soccer team reached a height it had never reached before and in the process, injected a new element into what's become known as Renegades' soccer.

Drama.

Shawnee trailed by two goals after 12 minutes of play, then got off the deck to defeat Ramapo, 3-2, in last night's state Group 3 championship game.

Shawnee completed its first-ever undefeated, untied season in winning the seventh state title in school history. The Renegades went 27-0 to tie the record for wins in a season set by St. Benedict's in 2001.

Brad Franks returned from a four-game absence to put in a pair of goals. The first came just 27 seconds after a header by Robert Santaniello had given Ramapo a 2-0 lead. Ramapo's first goal also went in off a head — a restart glanced off the head of the Raiders' John Fiorenzo and bounced high off the rock-hard turf at The College of New Jersey and into the net.

“It takes a special team to come back and do this,” Shawnee coach Brian Gibney said. “It's not the best field to play on if you're playing catch-up.”

A cross from the left side by David Drake set Franks up with 27:45 left in the first half.

It actually got by Franks, then came back to him off the leg of a surprised defender.

Chris Edelschein set up the second about three minutes later, also with a cross from the left wing. Franks headed this one cleanly past Ramapo keeper Roman Popov and inside the near post.

The gamewinner came with 33:55 remaining. David Drake — who'd just missed an opportunity late in the first half — got a finish on a through pass from Franks. It caromed into the net off the leg of Ramapo defender Will Brackett and into the high netting for Drake's 36th goal of the year.

“This surface is tough, but I'm not going to blame (the miss) on that. It was all me,” Drake said. “I got in too early and couldn't turn my body. I ended up hitting it with my right and I hit it on my left.

“Franks took the defense across to the other side (on the goal). He plays on my club team, so I know how he works. I ran across to the weak side and it was just me and the goalie.”

Ramapo (19-3-1) pressured the Shawnee net for about the next 15 minutes, and gave the Renegades a couple of scares.

Santaniello leaped to get a bicycle kick on E.J. Alvarado's cross with 23:11 left, but put it just wide of the right post.

Chris Wolff looked like he had the tying goal on his foot when he dug out a rebound following Mark Miller's diving save with 19:20 left. Wolff collected the ball, picked a spot and fired, but Edelschein retreated to the goal mouth and dove to get himself in the way.

“I think it was a combination of me and Miller,” Edelschein said. “We both threw our bodies out there. With 10 minutes left, you've got to block that shot.”

Franks said of his absence “I was suspended from school for an incident I don't want to talk about.”

His teammates were delighted to have him back in the lineup. They hoist him to their shoulders after they collected the state championship trophy.

The Renegades hadn't trailed in a game since opening day, when they allowed the first goal to Bishop Eustace in a contest they eventually won, 5-1.

Shawnee had allowed just one goal over four prior playoff games, and hadn't given up more than one in a game all season.

All that changed last night within 11:48.

“My kudos to Evan (Baumgarten, the Ramapo coach),” Gibney said. “They made it a real good game, and he's got to be pleased with his kids.”
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