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RUMSON -- For 40 minutes of Tuesday night's Group II semifinal, the Rumson-Fair Haven boys soccer team played a state power to a dead heat.

Bulldogs coach Jeff Soares, however, knew 40 excellent minutes was not enough and while his team was up for as many or more challenges in the NJSIAA Tournament than any Rumson boys soccer team to date, it was not ready to hang with Delran without 80 pristine minutes.

After heading to the second half in a tie game, Delran exploded for four goals in the second half to run away with a 6-2 win over Rumson, ending the Bulldogs' historic season one game shy of the Group II championship game Saturday at Kean University.

"We said before the game, it was going to have to be a full 80 minutes of soccer," Soares said. "We played a phenomenal 40 minutes. We were taking it to them. As soon as they got that one (in the second half), it just felt like a dagger to the heart and the second one about 30 seconds later, and that's where it all falls apart. We had to push guys up and as you open the game up against a team like this they have the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net."

Juniors Alec Pentikis and Antonio Santos each scored goals in the first half, with Santos assisting an equalizer by Pentikis in the sixth minute and scoring to put Rumson (11-5-3) ahead, 2-1, in the 18th minute with a shot that ricocheted off the post and in.

From there, however, Delran (20-2-2) dominated. The Bears evened the game in the 25th minute on the second of three goals by sophomore sensation Drew Roskos.

In the fifth minute of the second half, Roskos got his hat trick by receiving a throw-in, turning and burying a left-footed shot inside the near left post for a 3-2 Delran lead. With his three goals on Tuesday, Roskos is at 32 for the season, making him the first Delran player to reach 30 or more goals in a season since 2003.

Just 47 seconds after taking the lead, Delran extended its edge to two goals on a left-footed blast by Andrew Grello from just inside the top of the 18-yard box.

Delran added a goal from Felipe Milazzo in the 68th minute and an own goal off a corner kick in the 72 to wrap up the second-half outburst.

The Bears scoring spree might have been even more pronounced if not for a collection of acrobatic saves by Rumson goalkeeper Aiden Colburn, including a lunging stop on a shot ticketed for the upper 90 in the first half.

"He had absolute heartbreaks his sophomore and junior year and this year, he was a freaking animal in the back of the net," Soares said. "You saw that upper-90 save, he has been doing that all season."

While this season marked the closest Rumson-Fair Haven has ever made it to winning a Group II championship, the Bulldogs had, perhaps, their best chance in 2013 with a team that lost just three games all season and reached the finals of both the Shore Conference Tournament and Central Jersey Group II. In the state tournament, Rumson's bid for a first ever sectional title was denied by Delran in the sectional final on the very same field in which the Bears dismantled the Bulldogs in Tuesday night's second half.

"This is the longest any RFH team has played into a season and that's something to be proud of," Soares said. "And they understand that. We'll be here five years later in the hall of fame and it will be a great memory."

While the Bulldogs will lose an important group of seniors led by Luke Pentikis, Harrison Gibson and Colburn

"Harrison Gibson has played everywhere we have needed him and played every role exceptionally well," Soares said. "Luke was phenomenal in the midfield for us. It was unfortunate that he missed the middle of the year with the (knee) injury and he is still not one hundred percent out there, but he's a warrior and he has been a leader for us for the last three years.

On the flipside, the Bulldogs will expect back a host of returnees that includes Alec Pentikis, Santos, Jacob Brown and Reece Moroney as seniors, as well as impressive freshman Ronan Hogg.

"We lost 21 seniors from last year," Soares said. "I knew there was talent here, but it was a young team and I really wanted to get them experience playing in as many big games as possible. We had a big list of goals and we checked off every box, minus the Shore Conference title.

"We have a good group coming back. We're going to be a force to be reckoned with for the next couple of years."


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