NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--The New Brunswick boys varsity soccer team is the new champions of the Greater Middlesex Conference White Division.
The team remains convincingly undefeated (14-0-0) as it is now ranked No. 20 in the state, having beaten each white division opponent twice.
On October 8, the Zebras had to take care of business against the South Plainfield Tigers (12-5-0) to claim the white division title. With South Plainfield's only loss in the division coming against New Brunswick, the title was up for grabs.
Right off the bat, it appeared as though the Zebras would repeat with a win over South Plainfield in similar fashion to the first time they met, which New Brunswick won 8-0.
The game started off great for the Zebras, as Sanchez rifled a shot inside the box from a Marcos Peña pass on the right wing in the 5th minute.
Sanchez would return the favor in the 21st minute, as he dished off a beautiful pass into the center of the box, which Kelvin Ortiz pounced on and finished in the bottom left corner of the goal putting the Zebras up 2-0.
The next goal came from captain, Jason Zarate, who finished the game with a hat trick.
Each one of his shots were fantastic. Even the ones he missed were fun to watch, as a few of them connected with the goal post.
Zarate had two golazos in the game. In the 31st minute, he found a pass from Felix Rojas at the top right edge of the box and blasted it straight into the upper 90s. Goooollllaaaazzzzoooo!
The second goal was banged in hard about six yards out. A viscous shot taken after he corralled it off a Tiger defender, intercepting a cross from the right wing. The shot zipped past the goalkeeper's face, leaving him no chance to stop it.
The second golazo, his third goal of the game, came after a drop-kick inside the Tiger half.
The goal was gorgeous, as it soared in the air like a hawk, dipping down out of the goalkeeper's reach and into the back of the net. Goooollllaaaazzzzoooo!
Acting as a dagger to the heart of the Tigers, the goal deflated the Tigers, who lost hope as they knew the Zebra lead was too significant to overcome late in the game.
The Tigers fought hard, competing well with the Zebras the entire match.
This was the only opponent throughout the season who gave the Zebras a difficult time, as South Plainfield disrupted the Zebra's game plan, not allowing multiple passes to string together and maintaining possession for a decent amount of time.
Before the half, the Tigers were able to connect on two quick goals in the span of three minutes, erasing the Zebra three goal lead down to one.
One goal came from the South Plainfield captain, Villacres, who connected on a shot from 30 yards out.
The other was from Smith, who sprung into the air like a salmon swimming upstream to head in the cross from a corner-kick.
The strength of the Zebras is for them to keep the ball on the ground and string together crisp passes to score. They are smart, fast, solid fundamentally, and can maintain ball possession for the entire game.
Their weakness is the air attack. The Zebras gave up two goals off headers against the Tigers.
Though they may have hops, the Zebras lack height and tend to be shorter than most of their opponents. A plan to set up corner-kicks would be like using Kryptonite on Superman for them.
Smith and Polizzano scored from headers for the Tigers, and though it was only two that connected, there were numerous additional chances they had, which could have been dangerous for New Brunswick.
The Zebras have produced an incredible 89 goals in 14 games, after putting up numbers all season that would normally only be possible in a video game
The Zebras are led by striker, Kevin Sanchez, who leads his team in goals (42) and assists (12).
He alone has outscored Woodbridge (14), Colonia (21), Edison (19), JFK (19), Perth Amboy (25), & Sayreville (29). The second best team in the division, South Plainfield, has produced 43 goals. His goal average is three goals a game, which means he averages a hat-trick a game!
Sanchez has now recorded seven hat-tricks, which includes the fury he unloaded against Edison with a season high of seven goals.
Jason Zarate, the team's second leading scorer, has scored 21 goals, more than JFK, Woodbridge, Edison, and technically Colonia, since that team was awarded two free goals due to a rainout against Perth Amboy.
On the defensive end, the Zebras have only given up 14 goals.
This number is deceivingly high, as the majority of the goals allowed were scored when nearly half of the starters were out of the game.
For instance, they allowed three goals against Perth Amboy recently, a team who they destroyed 10-1 in their first meeting.
New Brunswick has four games left in the regular season before they head into the playoffs.
On October 19 at 6pm, the Zebras will take on the South Brunswick Vikings (13-2-0), who currently top the GMC Red Divisions.
New Brunswick has a golden opportunity to prove how strong they are, and to further improve on their win-loss record from last season, when they went 13-5.
This year's team is unbelievably awesome, one of only eight undefeated teams remaining in New Jersey.
The only teams close to them in comparison are Shore (14-0-0), scoring 72 goals, 17 less than the Zebras, and West Orange (14-0-0), who have scored 57 goals.
The remaining six teams have one or more ties in their records.
This New Brunswick team is truly making history in the Hub City.
Below are statistics from the team this season so far, through the first 14 games.
Kevin Sanchez 42
Jason Zarate 21
Raul Galindo 7
Kelvin Ortiz 7
Kevin Canseco 1
William Rojas 1
Kevin Sanchez 12
Adam Sarmiento 9
Raul Galindo 8
Arlin Martinez 7
Jason Zarate 7
Kelvin Ortiz 5
Felix Rojas 3
Marcos Peña 3
William Rojas 2
Kevin Canseco 3
Claudio Guzman 2
Evaristo Solano 2
Abel Cabrera 1
Dalber Inestroza 44
Alexis Narvaez 37
Jamar Palma 3