Matt Perrella registered 11 saves and Ryan Campbell’s sixth goal in seven games evened it in the 65th minute as New Jersey Copa FC chalked up a 1-1 tie against archrival Clarkstown SC Eagles in National Premier Soccer League Northeast Conference Keystone Division action on June 25 at Saint John Vianney High School.
NJCFC (5-1-2, 17 points) maintains a share of first place in the Keystone Division with the West Chester United Soccer Club (5-1-2, 17 points) after West Chester drew 2-2 with third place Buxmont Torch.
Clarkstown (3-2-2, 11 points) outshot NJCFC 22-9, but primarily in the first half when it had a 13-2 shots advantage. The second half saw NJCFC have the more dangerous opportunities. Abdoukarim Danso made five saves for Clarkstown to preserve the 1-1 deadlock.
NJCFC’s left back Daniel Pizzimenti was tabbed the Jersey Mike’s Subs New Jersey Copa FC Man of the Match for his work in containing Clarkstown.
“This was a good performance from our team this evening,” noted associate head coach Billy Englishby. “I thought the guys did a fantastic job with the adjustments dealing with the pressure Clarkstown tried to exert on us. We created several very good chances in the second half and were very unfortunate not to take the lead. Regardless, four points this season against a veteran Clarkstown club is a great accomplishment.”
Trailing 1-0 at the half, NJCFC had a slew of dangerous near misses in the second half before finally securing the equalizer in the 65th minute. Former Rutgers-Newark All-American Raphael Araujo flicked a pass to Campbell, a Rowan University product. Campbell sidestepped a central defender, eluding him right before sprinting to the goal and beating Danso right for the only time in the game.
The goal came after a barrage of opportunities. In the 54th minute, Ohio State’s Mike Prosuk swiped the ball from a Clarkstown back before his 1-v-1 shot was thwarted on a diving stop by Danso.
The best non-scoring chance of the afternoon didn’t result in a shot. In the 57th minute, right back Andrew Santos stole the ball in the midfield and sent a long pass over the entire Clarkstown team, finding Campbell in stride. On a break to the goal he tried to sidestep Danso, but the keeper laid out at the top of the box with extended arms to deny a shot attempt. There was no defender with 10 yards of the play had Campbell eluded the keeper.
Araujo, who scored the winning goal in a 1-0 road victory over Clarkstown in the first meeting of the season on May 31, had two good chances in the 58th and 62nd minutes before Danso made a pair off saves. Four of the first five shots by NJCFC were on goal.
Perrella, the Rider University product, made six saves in the first 25 minutes to keep the game scoreless. His finest came in the 12th minute after a giveaway. Christopher Katona, who had a game-high seven shots (four on goal), went in on a breakaway but Perrella came out to snuff the shot at the 18. Another clean look by Clarkstown in the 16th minute off a giveaway was set aside by Perrella.
Clarkstown finally broke through late in the 27th minute when Katona played a ball up the right sideline to Andres Berriel, who finished a shot into the far side netting.
Perrella’s long punts led to breakaway chances in the 17th and 32nd minutes. With the game even, 1-1, in the 69th minute, Clarktown’s Maximiliano Garcia settled a cross with his chest and unleashed a one-timer that Perrella thwarted. Prosuk’s header on net in the 86th minute was the last near scoring effort for New Jersey Copa FC. Clarkstown’s Martin Lukaschik was blocked inside the six with a New Jersey Copa FC team save midway through the 90th minute to see the game end in a draw.
NJCFC plays another key divisional match on Saturday, July 1 at 7 pm when it hosts the Buxmont Torch.