(Central Jersey) - The Real Central NJ Soccer (RCNJ) men’s USL League Two team lost at home to Reading United on Wednesday, June 29th. This match had fans on the edge of their seats to see what would come of these two talented teams with comparable skills, records, and spirit versed each other again after concluding their first matchup in a draw in late May. After 94 minutes of putting up a good fight, RCNJ sustained a 3-2 heartbreaking loss against Reading United.
RCNJ displayed a lot of smart touches to one another right out of the gate trying to strategize plays and opportunities for shots. Both teams had solid defensive lines protecting goal, making it hard for either side to set up in the others’ territory. Any time things started to get messy near Real Central NJ’s 18, center-back Stephen Duncan was there in a heartbeat to protect goalkeeper Eric Wnorowski and along with the rest of RCNJ’s backline, made Reading United work hard for any advances on goal.
The match had plenty of close calls when it came to either team scoring on the other but with goalkeepers Wnorowski and Russell Shealy on opposite ends, it was difficult at times to get any shots to the net. It seemed as though Reading United would score its first goal in the 24th minute when an attacker tried to sneak a shot past Wnorowski, but he dove to the left in a split second to keep RCNJ’s clean sheet.
Excitement stirred in the 37th minute when Real Central NJ was awarded a corner-kick which Sergio Aguinaga took. Everyone took to the air to try and head the ball towards goal but no luck. A few minutes later with some more fast touches, RCNJ prevailed when Ethan Shaw crossed the ball just outside the 18 where “Player of the Match,” Stas Korzenowski stood alert and ready to crack the ball into the net. Korzenowski immediately shot a speedy ground ball too fast for Shealy and scored Real Central NJ’s first goal of the match in the 43rd minute.
The first period ended with RCNJ up by one in the 46th minute. Early into the second period, Real Central NJ’s defensive line was fighting tirelessly against Reading attacks. In the 49th minute, some defensive players as well as Wnorowski seemed to be waiting for an off-side call that would not come from the ref, and Reading United’s Alex Hajj was able to sneak a shot in.
RCNJ’s Justin Brunow would get the leg up on Reading United in the 62nd minute when he broke past defenders and went for the go-ahead goal with an assist from Korzeniowski. In a similar situation as the last goal scored on RCNJ, Russell Shealy was seen sitting on the ground looking at the ref in anticipation of any type of call that never came.
The score being 2-1, approaching halfway into the second period, turned up the intensity for both teams who grasped for the win. RCNJ went into this match in third place standing in the Mid-Atlantic Conference so the stakes were high for Real Central NJ. A second Reading goal was scored in the 67th minute, once again showing a tying score of 2-all. In a battle against Wnorowski from the ground right by the goal line, Reading United’s Hajj flicked the ball over his arm, and forward Talla Faye came barreling into the box to take the equalizer to the net. With about 20 minutes left in the match and the score at a 2-2 deadlock, both teams tried to uncover scoring opportunities but could not make it work against each other’s resilient back lines.
Rainfall began in the 87th minute and escalated as the minutes neared the end of the second period. With no new goal from either side, the fourth official indicated four extra minutes would be added to the half in hopes someone would score. RCNJ was on edge in these final minutes and could not successfully execute any shots taken on goal. Then, in the 95th minute, midfielder Sam Hershey went toe-to-toe with Wnorowski in a last-minute counterattack after an RCNJ set piece and was able to shoot a fast shot on the ground past him as he dropped to his knees for an attempted save. This brought the score to 3-2 Reading United and although RCNJ tried to find something in the last seconds of the period, the whistle blew shortly after the following restart.
Head Coach Brian Woods provided his personal insight on how the team would recover from last night’s match and move forward onto the remaining matches of the season. “They know we’re trying to build something here. It’s my first year here, our second year. So we’re playing an established group already. We’re hoping that after this loss we realize just how good we can be and really try to move forward and just get better.”
Last night’s match was the last one at home for the Real Central NJ soccer’s USL2 men’s team in the 2022 season. The men will be on the road for the final three matchups of their regular season, starting with Ocean City against the OC Nor’Easters on Friday, July 1st at 7 pm.
RCNJ’s WPSL women’s team will be playing at home for its second to last match of the season on Thursday, June 30th against Hershey FC.