The Dover Tigers visited J-Town on Friday, November 1 to face off in a state quarterfinal matchup which would be tough fought, but won by the Falcons. In a game where defense was the key, it was the Falcons coming out as the scrappier team in the end.
In a game which had a state championship-like atmosphere, the under-seeded Tigers (8 seed) came ready to knock off the Falcons. However, dead ball kicks would prove pivotal in the Falcons’ victory.
The defense was the story of the first half. Both teams struggled to find offense. Jefferson and Dover had only two realistic opportunities each to get on the board. However, on those opportunities Jefferson goalie Jacob Waker and Dover goalie David Hoyt were up to the task. The most challenging of these was a long cross from John Becker which was headed towards the bottom corner of the net by Cole Fitzgerald, however Hoyt made a fantastic play on the ball, keeping the game scoreless going into half.
The first half was more of the same for the first 15 minutes. This was until Falcons’ Connor Sheldon had a break on the ball and was fouled in the box, giving the Falcons a penalty kick. That’s when senior Dan Profaca decided it would be a good time to score his first ever varsity goal, in “the biggest game,” of his soccer career.
“Everyone thought I was going to miss it because I have a history of just power and no finesse,” Profaca said. “When I saw it go in it just was a testament to all we have worked for.” Profaca, who is known for his heavy kick, went low into the bottom left corner to beat a very athletic Dover keeper.
As the game continued, hostility only mounted. Between fans, players, and coaches, many words were shared to the referee as both teams were in desperation time for their towns.
“Just keep playing, and keep playing until the final whistle blows,” Buddy Jacobus said about the hostility. That mindset led Buddy to a chance to advance the Falcon lead, when he was fouled on a break to the net. That is when junior John Becker took a long kick from 30 yards and put it in the back of the net.
“It was pretty sick, to be honest,” Becker said. That kick pushed the Falcons ahead 2-0, and they would not look back.
The Falcons’ defense held strong and closed out the 2-0 win, sending them to the state-semifinal for the first time in program history.
“This is probably the biggest accomplishment personally for me as a soccer player,” said Jacobus on the semi-finals bid. “Be there Tuesday or be square, baby.” The excitement of the Falcons squad has been unheard of in the Jefferson boys’ soccer world before, yet is thrilling to watch.
Jefferson now awaits the winner of 13-seeded Pequannock and 12-seeded Demarest to see who they face off against at The Nest on Tuesday, November 5.