When a team stumbles, there can be a tendency toward the athletes, as well as the coaching staff to hang their heads in disappointment, or worse, in defeat.
When the Ocean City High School boys soccer program suffered its share of setbacks this fall, they responded with grit and determination, in other words like winners.
“[Our overall record was] 10-8, however, we were 4-7 two weeks before the (NJSIAA) South Jersey final,’’ head coach Aaron Bogushefsky said. “We came on so strong at the end of the season, and I couldn’t be more happy.
“I want to reiterate that we were a struggling team all season, and the boys bought into the system we play at Ocean City, and rattled off some impressive wins to end the season. As the No. 9 seed, we upset the No. 8, Lacey, No. 1, Moorestown, and No. 5, Toms River South, making it all the way to the South Jersey finals, a feat no one counted us in for.
"Although we fell short to a solid Triton team (in the South Jersey Group 3 Sectional Tournament final), I am so proud of my team and our resilience this season.’’
The victory over Moorestown was a highlight triumph for the Red Raiders this season.
“Two games stand out for me. One was our midseason win over a very good Mainland team,’’ Bogushefsky said.
“We rallied from a goal down to come back to win 3-1. This was a timely win, as we were struggling most of the season.
“Secondly, was our win over No. 1 Moorestown in the South Jersey quarterfinals. We were the No. 9 seed in the tournament and went to their field, and shocked them in a dramatic penalty shootout.’’
Leadership was rampant for the Red Raiders this year.
“Fisher Hudak, a Cape Atlantic League (CAL) and South Jersey All-Star, became the voice for this team and our impressive postseason run,’’ Bogushefsky said. “Noam Levy-Smith also was crucial in turning our season around as he became a physical leader bringing a toughness and confidence to our team.’’
Several players steadily improved throughout the season.
“Reed Lindsay, who sat out all last season with major injuries, worked his way back into the lineup and became a critical part of our team,’’ Bogushefsky said. “Kyle Harper, who played center-midfield for us, improved every game and was a big part of our success late in the season. Ori Levy-Smith, a sophomore, who plays at 110% all the time, improved every game and earned eight goals as an outside midfielder this year.’’
The Red Raiders should prove to be a strong team once again next season.
“We only graduate six seniors, and return a very strong core for the next few seasons,’’ Bogushefsky said. “I believe the team will be working hard in the offseason to up their game next year.’’