Hilltoppers win feisty match with East Rutherford
In what proved to be a typical match-up between cross-town rivals, the R-S Central Hilltoppers notched another conference win against the East Rutherford Cavaliers, 4-0.
The match was hard fought and physical from the beginning with both sides showing a great deal of intensity and hustle that only a good rivalry can bring out.
Andrew Simmons, the Hilltoppers' (6-2, 4-2 SMAC) leading scorer, put the first goal on the board early in the first half. Caleb Jones found Simmons again at the left wing with a perfect pass setting up Simmons second goal of the afternoon in the 20th minute.
With the Hilltoppers leading 2-0 the game began to get chippy.
Several hard hits led to heated exchanges between players and growing frustration from the coaches and sidelines.
As the game progressed, a total for four yellow cards were issued by the referee.
The most controversial call came with 1:33 remaining in the first half when Hilltopper Aaron Higgins was whistled for a foul inside of the box which by rule entitled the Cavaliers (0-4 0-3MAC) to a penalty kick.
After conferring with the linesman the center referee changed the call and the penalty was ruled to have occurred outside of the box resulting in no penalty kick.
East Rutherford head coach Neil Van Dyke was visibly upset with the turn of events and argued the call passionately to no avail.
"The referee let the game get out of hand,” Van Dyke said. “I felt like my boys were getting cheated and I have to stick up for my guys.”
The call halted any momentum that the Cavaliers may have had at the time and the Hilltoppers took advantage of the opportunity.
A few ticks of the clock later Caleb Owens struck the ball hard sending it sailing 25 yards into the net over the outstretched arms of Cavalier goalie C.J. Warren for a 3-0 lead.
“We got to do a better job of dealing with adversity,” said Van Dyke. “The game is 2-0 at the foul and it's 4-0 on the scoreboard at the end of the game.”
The second half settled into a tough defensive match-up as the ball seemed stay around midfield for much of the period. The Hilltoppers Chance Rector controlled the middle as he and his teammates continually turned away the Cavaliers offense.
The lone goal of the second half was set up by Higgins as he found Simmons streaking towards the Cavaliers goal for his third goal of the afternoon giving the Hilltoppers the 4-0 win.
“The scoreline doesn't tell the true story because (East) played very well.” R-S Central head coach Ruffin Taylor said after the win. “We're growing as the season goes along. We struggled the first couple of games with scoring goals but as the season has progressed we've learned to push the tempo and create chances.”
R-S Central returns to the field Monday at Burns as East Rutherford hosts Chase on the same day.