Amara Conte got Ferris on the board first and the Bulldogs never looked back in a 2-0 victory over North Arlington on Friday.
NORTH ARLINGTON – After suffering a heartbreaking loss in double overtime in the North 2, Group 3 quarterfinals against Nutley to end the 2017 season, the Ferris players were devastated. With the bulk of the team returning this season, the Bulldogs want to make it further than any other boys’ soccer team has in school history. If the early portion of the season is any indication, Ferris is proving to be a legitimate contender to make a deep run in both the Hudson County Tournament and the state tournament.
Amara Conte opened the scoring in the first half and Kevin Mejia added a tally late as Ferris remained Hudson County’s only unbeaten team with a 2-0 win over North Arlington on Friday afternoon at Riverside County Park in North Arlington.
“From the goalkeeper to the strikers to the guys coming off the bench when everyone does their job we’re going to be successful,” said Mejia.
Behind the play of Felipe Barahona and Mejia in the middle of the field the Bulldogs took control early. In the 16th minute, Barahona slipped a through up the middle where Conte split the defense to run onto it. He converted the breakaway opportunity to put Ferris in front, 1-0.
“We weren’t nervous coming into the game before we play just like we practice,” said Conte. “We usually come out strong in games just like we do at the start of practice and that puts pressure on the other team. On the goal, I just saw the ball being played through and used my speed to get to it. Once I saw the goalie step out I picked a spot and went for it.”
North Arlington goalie Antoni Alho made 12 saves to help keep his team in the game.
Ferris had several chances to tack onto that lead. A pair of shots from point-blank range were saved by Vikings’ goalie Antonio Alho and another two from in close were off target.
North Arlington had a pair of quality scoring chances three minutes apart from Eric McKenna and Dylan Jurado but both were saved by Ferris keeper Manuel Brizuela.
The Vikings carried that momentum into the second half and pushed hard to net the tying goal. Ten minutes into the second half, North Arlington sophomore Jared Velasquez bent in a long shot but the wiry Brizuela plucked it out of the air before it could dip under the crossbar.
That seemed to be a wake-up call for the Bulldogs as they dominated possession for the remainder of the game. However, they were unable to put away another positive result until the final minutes. Off of a corner kick, Christian Herrera’s shot was saved and the ball bounced around in the box before Mejia cleaned it up and scored the goal to ice yet another win for Ferris.
Brizuela made five saves to secure his seventh shutout of the season for Ferris (9-0). Conte’s goal was his 12th on the season.Alho made 12 saves to keep North Arlington (2-4-2) in the game.
With the Hudson County Tournament seeding next week and the state tournament here before they know it, the Bulldogs are not taking the opportunity for granted. They have a chance to do something special that no Jersey City Public school team has ever done before and they are determined to be the first to bring home some hardware.
“We’re really motivated to do great things this year,” said Mejia. “We’re not as talkative as other teams are and we need to be if we want to get to that next level. That’s something we need to work on but we have the teamwork and we want to get better. We’ve had a great start but we’re not done. To get to where we want to be as a championship team it’s going to take a total team effort.”