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REAL CENTRAL NJ MEN’S USL2 SIDE NABS FIRST EVER WIN OVER WEST CHESTER UNITED

(Central New Jersey) Wednesday, June 19, 2024—The Real Central NJ (RCNJ) men are on a roll, winning their third game in a row, 1-0 against West Chester United (WCU). The USL2 match was a great showing of their potential and ended in nail-biting fashion, as every other game against West Chester has. With Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association appreciation and Mercer United FC in attendance, the amazing fan presence culminated in an electrifying atmosphere, helping support the team to victory. 


Photo credit: Lukas Courtney

This win marks the first time in club history that Real Central NJ has secured three points against West Chester United in USL League Two. 


The night also saw the debut of Jose “Nacho” Ignacio Muñoz, a recent transfer from Reading United. Nacho's first appearance was impactful, leaving Head Coach Brian Woods satisfied with the new addition. 


“He [Nacho] did a great job, it’s a great pickup for us,” Coach Woods said post-game. “He’s the real deal, and we’re happy to have him.”


It was also an emotional night for Real Central NJ, as it may have been midfielder Hugo Cakurda’s last home match in the RCNJ kit. In his home farewell, he scored a goal for the road. 


“It was sad because it was my last game here, and I really enjoyed playing here with all the guys,” Cakurda commented. “The game was pretty good because I was lucky to score and was really happy about it.”


Cakurda has been a pivotal member of the RCNJ midfield, offering experience, and solid play during his time with the club. 


“It's kind of sad to have to leave when we actually start winning, actually three games in a row now,” he added. “Hopefully, I can come back next year and enjoy it some more.”


He was nothing but grateful to the club in his final words to the team. 


“I’m very thankful because I met really good guys here and made really good friends,” Cakurda said. “I’ve had really good coaches, and I like everyone here, including the owners and everyone around. I’m really grateful I could be a part of the program.” 


GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN

  • RCNJ - Hugo Cakurda 16th minute: Cakurda ripped a first-touch shot into the back of the net off of a rebounded save inside the box following a Luke Pompliano shot.  RCNJ 1, WCU 0


Luke Pomplaino was the player of the match. Once again, he provided the team with solid pressure throughout the game and helmed the constant RCNJ attack.


“He’s player of the match for a reason,” Coach Woods said. “He’s just a handful. He ran past them all day, and it was just unlucky he didn’t score. He’s invaluable to us right now and doing a great job.” 


The RCNJ defense was also extremely solid, holding West Chester to only two shots, with the hosts putting in 13 shots. Goalkeeper Lukas Burns returned after spending time training with the Philadelphia Union. Burns' single save ensured the clean sheet and victory.


The first half was all RCNJ. It opened with a fourth-minute shot from Curt Calov after receiving a through ball from Justin Brunow. Calov went one-on-one with the keeper and tried to sneak a shot to the bottom near corner, but it went too wide and deflected off the post. 


Calov returned with another strong attempt in the eleventh minute. The shot came from just in front of the D and was hit on target but saved well by the WCU keeper. And again, in the fifteenth, Calov found a shot just outside the penalty area that was saved low by the keeper.


The Real Central NJ attack finally overwhelmed the West Chester back line in the sixteenth as they found themselves on the scoreboard. The opportunity came from a saved shot from Luke Pomplaino. On the save, the ball was deflected across the box, where it found Hugo Cakurda; Cakurda seized the opportunity, took a first-touch shot, and put the ball into the back of the net. RCNJ 1, WCU 0


Photo credit: Lukas Courtney

In the twenty-third minute, Cakurda got another look at the goal from just outside the box, sending a shot high and to the far side of the net, but it went just too wide of the post. RCNJ immediately got another chance, as Justin Brunow was able to take a shot from within the D in the twenty-fourth; however, it was sent high off the crossbar. 


After stringing together a nice series of passes in the twenty-ninth, Pomplaino had a shot from within the box that was saved at the bottom right corner. It was a quality attack that seemed like it would end in a goal. 


After forty minutes of play, West Chester found their first attempt at goal. It came from a deflected RCNJ pass up the sideline and ended off-target at the far post. 


Coming out of the half, in the fifty-sixth minute, Arturo McConnochie found a shot after dribbling in and out of a crowd of WCU defenders. The shot was ripped to the near post but was pulled just a bit too much, and it went off-target. 


Pomplaino found himself another look at the goal in the fifty-eighth minute after working his way into the box. His shot went shallow off the near post as he faded away from the defenders and avoided the traffic. 


Off this shot attempt, West Chester United found their second shot of the game. Also, in the fifty-eighth minute, they took a hard shot from the left side of the box that met the RCNJ keeper Lukas Burns in the middle of the net for his first and only save of the game. 


RCNJ had two more looks on goal in regulation time; the first was in the sixty-second minute by Elias Betincourt, and the second was from Conlan Paventi in the eighty-ninth. Both shots were great opportunities that could not find the back of the net. 


The second half saw an added five minutes of extra time, and they were the chippiest of the game. Stoppage time was back and forth, with solid attacks from each team and flaring tensions. Towards the end of the allowed time, an overturned RCNJ handball was called inside the box, which would have given WCU the chance to equalize on a penalty - a crucial call at the end of the game. After one last anchoring defensive possession by RCNJ, the game was called. 


Real Central NJ’s next match is an away WPSL match against West-Mont United on Friday, June 21st, at 7 PM at The Hill School’s Cunningham Field. Stream it here on the Real Central NJ website. 


The men travel to Ocean City on Sunday to face up against the Ocean City Nor'easters 7 PM at Ocean City High School. Ocean City is now the only other team in the USL2 Mid-Atlantic Division that RCNJ has not yet defeated. Stream it here on the Real Central NJ website.


The next home bout is also a WSPL match, but this time against SJEB FC on June 25th at 7 PM at Rider University’s Ben Cohen Field. Purchase match-day tickets and season passes on the Real Central NJ Soccer website.


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