Striker Zach Gray, from London, puts a diving header past Union’s goalie Arturo Botero for the first goal in the Region 19 Championship Game. By Jeffrey Abbott, CCC Journalism Program

By Jeffrey Abbott
CCC Journalism Program

TOMS RIVER – For the first time in Camden County College history, the men’s soccer team with an overall record of 14-3 won the Region 19 Championship and moved onto the National Championship in Herkimer, N.Y.

From the beginning of the season, expectations for the season were very high. Many opinions from players and coaches alike were that National Champions would be their title by the end of the season. “Once I saw the first game or two, I knew we had something pretty good,” said Athletic Director Dr. Peter DiLorenzo.

Although the Cougars were ranked number 1 in the seeding and bracket, they were facing off Nov. 2 against a very tough Union County College side who was ranked number 3. From tip-off, the atmosphere was tense and neither side wanted to lose this game, which was reflected in their tough play.

From the beginning, CCC’s fans could be heard sideline to sideline and even when Union’s fans showed up, they could still be heard. The passion of the fans drives many players to give it that extra little kick that could determine the game’s outcome.

The Cougars struck first in the 9th minute when striker and the game’s Offensive MVP Zach Gray scored what seemed to be an impossible header past Union’s keeper Arturo Botero. “Um, to be honest I wasn’t expecting the ball to come to me. But when it landed on my head I just kinda tried to guide towards the goal and it ended up in the far corner, so I couldn’t ask for much more to be honest with you,” said Gray.

After the first goal, Union picked up its game for the next 30 minutes. If you couldn’t see the scoreboard, it would have been easy for you to think this game was tied. Each team had plenty of good chances but couldn’t capitalize until the 39th minute, when midfielder Anton Pogas scored a goal off a rebounded save by the keeper. It was a much needed goal that would put the Cougars ahead 2-0 at half-time.

After a stern talking to at halftime, the Cougars were ready to start the next 45 minutes and maintain their lead until the end of the game.

For 30 minutes, the teams went back and forth up the field until the 80th minute, when Union’s David Zorilla scored on CCC’s keeper Nicholas Foley. With 10 minutes left to play, and a score of 2-1, this goal could have been monumental for Union if it had been able to capitalize and score another goal.

But it wasn’t and in the 87th minute, midfielder George Iordanou added a goal to the scoreboard to seal CCC’s victory.

“I’m in shock. I’m happy, I’m excited,” Head Coach Giuseppi Lamberti said after the 3-1 victory.

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