NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The undefeated New Brunswick boys varsity soccer team has been destroying their opponents in the Greater Middlesex Conference white division.
Clicking on all cylinders, this team is solid in every aspect of the game, and halfway through the season, they have yet to lose.
Most recently, the Zebras defeated Sayreville by a score of 5-0 on September 29 to improve their record on the year to 9-0-0.
Coached by Rafael Castillo and Jimmy Piñeda, the team is set in a 4-4-2 formation, allowing them to have an even balance to defend and score at all times. The defense of Marcos Peña, Carlos Santos, Kevin Reyes, and Evaristo Solano has been a fierce barricade that offenses have struggled to get past.
The midfield is controlled by Raul Galindo, Adam Sarmiento, Arlin Martinez, Felix Rojas, and Kelvin Ortiz. These players conduct the ball so well their opponents barely get possession of it.
Up front, Jason Zarate, Claudio Guzman, and Kevin Sanchez have been a scoring machine, putting up arcade numbers the entire season, making defenses look like Swiss cheese. Their leading goal scorer, Kevin Sanchez, leads the Greater Middlesex Conference in goals scored with an incredible 23 goals in eight games.
All together, the team has scored a combined total of 54 goals. With their standout defense and goalkeeper, Dalber Inestroza, they have only allowed six.
When asked about the goals they gave up against Woodbridge, Coach Jimmy responded, "We gave up to two goals, which to teams it's probably not a big thing, but to us it's a big thing…the field doesn't help as well, but we got the job done and it was a good game. I'm proud of them."
Against Perth Amboy, the game was out of reach by the end of the first half with the score at 6-1. Having no answers, Perth Amboy became frustrated, using unsportsmanlike language. With poise and discipline, the Zebras never blinked, responding the best way they know how: with goals.
Coach Castillo commented, "I always tell my guys to maintain their composer, play well, and play hard. Any time a team scores on you, you want to respond as quickly as possible. This is the first time we've been trailing in a game, and I think they responded pretty well."
Due to a right ankle injury, the team has been without midfielder William Rojas, who was all-state last season.
However, the team is stacked and runs deep in every position. The substitutes are nearly as good as the starters. When called upon, Kevin Canseco, Christopher Guevarra, and Abel Cabrera always seem to get the job done.
For instance, in their recent 2-1 win against Colonia (4-4-0), New Brunswick had a closer game than anticipated. Note that they were without Adam Sarmiento, Claudio Guzman, and Abel Cabrera who are involved with an academic program at Rutgers University. Forward, Kevin Sanchez, did not play in the first half as well.
The key to this game was defense, as both teams locked down, playing smart, fundamental, and team soccer. Scoring opportunities were slim to none in the first half.
In the 33rd minute, Arlin Martinez fired a hard shot from the Colonia center half, which was a yard too high as his shot connected with the crossbar.
Off the rebound, Jason Zarate was there to put a head to it, but goalkeeper, Ryan Litterer, was there for the stop. Off the deflection, Raul Galindo found himself wide open with the ball on the right side.
A yard in front of the goal, he hammered it home before Litterer had time to recover.
There was controversy on the goal as it was scored in an offside position. Zarate may have been onside when Martinez took the shot, but Galindo was standing in front of Zarate in an offside position when he headed the ball.
Colonia's assistant coach received a yellow card for arguing the call, despite having every right to be upset with the official's decision.
In the second half, Colonia came out like a bat out of hell ready to play. With urgency, they had multiple shot attempts to start the half.
In the 43rd minute, Colonia midfielder and captain, Kevin Orrego, was tripped up inside the box, which awarded them a penalty kick.
With a chance to even the score against their undefeated white division opponent, without hesitation, Orrego stepped up for the opportunity. Cooler than the backside of a pillow, Orrego struck a beautiful penalty kick into the left side of the goal, as goalkeeper, Inestroza, was not able to make a play on it. Tie game at 1-1.
Centerback, Kevin Reyes, commented how a Colonia player came into the box, shoving him to the ground, which caused Reyes to accidently trip him.
When a player falls down in the box or is offside, referees have only moments to make a call. This time it worked in favor for Colonia, perhaps getting even with Galindo's goal that should not have counted.
After a throw-in from Solano on the left sideline, Kevin Sanchez fought off three Colonia defenders to come away with it. Draping over him as he approached the top left corner of the box, Sanchez rifled a bullet to light up the net for their second goal of the match. Gooolllaaazzzzoooo! Zebras 2-1.
When asked about his team's performance, Colonia head coach Michael Kizoulis said, "I'm really proud of my boys. Going out there, competing very hard and giving us every opportunity to compete to not only be in the game, but win the game as well. It could have went either way today."
"If we're organized and we're prepared, we can play with anybody in the division. New Brunswick is a fantastic team… They're head and shoulders ahead in the division. Even though we lost, if we show up to play every match we'll be in it. And if we continue to be consistent, we'll have a winning season. "
When asked about his team's performance, NBHS head coach Rafael Castillo said they started off slow, but stuck to the game plan on passing and shooting to gel as a team.
Castillo has mentioned how using their speed is a strength they look to use, being that they do not have a tall team.
With an undefeated start to the season, he is optimistic his team can achieve their goal of improving their record of 13-5 last year, win the division, and a GMC title.
Here is the team's statistics through the first nine games of the season:
W Sayreville 4-1
W Colonia 4-1
W Kennedy 6-0
W S. Plainfield 8-0
W Edison 9-0
W Woodbridge 7-2
W Perth Amboy 10-1
W Colonia 2-1
W Sayreville 5-0
Goals Assists Saves
Kevin Sanchez 26 Kevin Sanchez 9 Dalber Inestroza 28
Jason Zarate 11 Adam Sarmiento 7 Alexis Narvaez 22
Raul Galindo 6 Raul Galindo 6 Jamar Palma 3
Kelvin Ortiz 4 Jason Zarate 5
Claudio Guzman 3 Kelvin Ortiz 3
Arlin Martinez 2 Felix Rojas 2
Kevin Canseco 1 William Rojas 2
William Rojas 1 Kevin Canseco 2
Evaristo Solano 1