(Central Jersey) - The Real Central NJ Soccer (RCNJ) men’s USL League Two team kicked off the home season with a 1-1 draw against the Ocean City Nor’easters on Saturday, May 21st, as a follow up to their 5-1 win as the campaign opener against Philadelphia Lone Star just the week before. The harsh temperature nearing 100 degrees during the day remained on the higher side of 85 degrees in the evening hours just before kickoff.
Ms. Valerie Giglio, a stroke survivor and representative of the American Heart Association, sang the national anthem in honor of stroke awareness month. The match immediately began with excitement from the home side’s fans as ball possession frequently switched during the first fifteen minutes. Ocean City had several chances on goal, however, the attacks were no match for the starting RCNJ defensive line.
The team performed as a strong unit for the entirety of the game, accompanied by “Player of the Match,” Jack Borden. Goalkeeper, Eric Wnorowski, proved resilient against these efforts with a memorable diving save accompanied by plenty of long-distance kicks reaching Ocean City’s territory.
The first goal of the match was awarded to Ocean City’s Nor’easters in the 25th minute with force from Alessandro Arlotti, assisted by Nick Pariano. Real Central NJ refused to be shaken and continued to focus its efforts on pushing the ball up the field.
Hopes were raised when RCNJ forward, Wesley Legget, had a breakaway toward goal and jumped for an attempted header. However, his play was cut short by a foul from the Nor’easters’ goalkeeper, resulting in a penalty kick being awarded to RCNJ. Legget took the kick with slight hesitation which led to a save but allowed for a rebound and swift shot into the net, giving RCNJ the equalizer in the 33rd minute. The score remained a 1-1 tie as the first period concluded with an extra minute of play time.
When asked how Real Central NJ played its first home match of the season, Head Coach Brian Woods responded, “I thought they did magnificently. I just told them all I love them, I mean they work like no other team.”
Heading into the second period of the match, the stakes were high for both sides as each player tried for a go-ahead goal. Efforts from both teams advanced to make for multiple shot attempts on either goal for the duration of the period, but no dice.
Both teams played with heart, with RCNJ’s unfaltering defensive line and determined attackers driven by passion for the duration of the match, which created for 9 saves all made by Wnorowski, and 9 total attempts on Ocean City’s goalkeeper, Benjamin Cam Orellana. The match ended tied 1-1 in the 93rd minute, a noteworthy accomplishment after being shut out twice against the Ocean City Nor’easters during the 2021 season.
“They care about it more than anything else and they care about the badge they wear on their chests. If they can keep that culture and keep that mindset, we’ll be okay,” said Woods after the game's end.
Real Central NJ will be playing at home next Friday, May 27th at 7 pm, against Reading United, after playing away on Tuesday at West Chester United. Friday’s match is the club’s Military and First Responder Appreciation Night. Military, veterans, and first responders will be honored by the club and fans. RCNJ’s WPSL women’s team will be returning home on Sunday, June 12th at 6 pm in a faceoff against the PA Classics after starting the season with several matches on the road.