The problem coach Tom Bray currently faces doesn’t happen often—with so much depth on his STA Morris United Boys Under-13 team he has to find time to play both his goalkeepers every game. So, Ryan Eapen sets the pace in the opening half and Matthew Marisco wraps things up in the second. That has led to a relatively successful season for STA Morris United in EDP NPL play. STA (4-2-2, 14 points) is fifth in the Boys 2005 Central First Division with one game remaining.
Unsurprisingly, Bray used his goalkeeping tandem the same way at the EDP Cup Spring Memorial Day weekend. Eapen manned the nets in the first half and Marisco in the final half in the 1-0 victory over Real Jersey FC 2005 in the Boys U-13 Division at Tuckahoe Turf Farms Saturday.
Speaking after the game—"I have two fantastic goalkeepers," Bray said. "Ryan made some great saves, especially one from point-blank range.
"Matthew loves the pressure of playing in the second half" Coach Bray explains, "he did us proud with a great performance to keep a clean sheet." Both goalkeepers had their moments. Within a two-minute span late in the first half, Eapen denied two huge goal-scoring opportunities. Trailing by a goal, Real Jersey pushed up for the equalizer as STA's defense managed to keep a clean sheet and Marisco made a diving save on Perdomo Jimenez's shot in the 55th minute.
"No. 11, we really need to cover him," Marisco said about Perdomo Jimenez. "We need to play two or three players on 11 because he was their main man. Sometimes we would leave a player open on the line. Thankfully, we recovered quickly and that wasn't a problem." It was a tightly contested match.
"It was a good game," Real's Matthew Conger said. "They played the ball very well. We probably should have tied it up at the end, but we didn't finish." Added Perdomo Jimenez: "We had a lot of chances, but we just couldn't finish it. They were playing really good defense."
The fact that the game is on the line never affects STA’s second half hero- Marisco.
"We mix it up on how we want it," he said. "The coach lets us choose. I usually choose the second half because I like dealing under pressure."
"I feel like I play a lot better when there's more on the line," Marisco said.
"I feel like I don't play as good when there's no pressure. I start to take chances I shouldn't take and those lead up to goals."
There are few positions other than the goalkeeper where you need someone who enjoys rising to big occasions more.
Marisco protected a 1-0 lead that was provided by forward Daniel Farberov, who scored in the 16th minute. "I thought we played one of our best games this season," Farberov said. "Could have played a little better. I should have finished chances, we should have finished a little more chances. A big result. That's the most important thing." Farberov felt he should have had another goal. "I thought I did well, but just got to finish," he said. "I had a big empty net there. You've got to forget about misses. You got to take the next one like it’s the first."
Marisco said he was happy with a clean sheet, but a win was more important. "I would rather not play really well and let up a few goals (and lose)." he said. "It's just better for the team rating, especially in tournaments. "We played great. We need to keep this going for tomorrow. Maybe even Monday."
Monday was the day of the championship game. United reached the final after playing Valeo FC 05 PSG to a 1-1 draw and blanking the Manhattan SC Freedoms, 2-0, in Sunday group play. In the Platinum division final, United left the game with 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Celtics. "We haven't played to our full potential yet," Marisco explains after the Real Jersey game. "But when we do, I feel we can be the top three or five in the country. If we played our best, we can be a lot higher."
Here is what both coaches had to say about Saturday's match.
STA Morris United coach Tom Bray:
"The game was a really competitive contest. Both teams threatened each other with some great build up play! They had a lot of speed in attacking areas and some really talented forwards. I was really pleased with how we battled and defended as a team. "It was a great game between two very good footballing teams."
Real Jersey coach Greg Ruttler:
"This was the first time we saw them. They're very good. A couple of very dangerous players up top. Very skillful all over the field. I don't think we played our best game. Some of that has to do with them, some of that has to do with us. But we still had chances to score. I'm not concerned about it. You've got to score against good teams. They're a very good team. I thought both teams really played hard. Any result would have been fair.”