Victory over Holy Cross a milestone for Warriors


The New Egypt High School boys soccer team has every starter back from last season’s 10-9-1 team and the Warriors and their coach felt, with good reason, little surprise at the team’s strong start in 2012.

But when the Warriors beat Holy Cross of Delran, 5-1, on Sept. 22 for the first time in their school’s 11-year history, they realized this could be a special season in the Burlington County Scholastic League Freedom Division, and that is with only three seniors starting.

“That was big,” senior forward Adam Coyle said of the Holy Cross victory. “We’re a small school, but we wanted to show we’re good by beating bigger schools.”

In the team’s best start since 2007, when the Warriors won nine straight matches out of the gate, New Egypt has outscored its opponents 23-4 through five matches as sophomore center-halfback Nick Sample and junior forward Travis Ward has each scored six goals, and Coyle has five goals, including the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over Westampton Tech.

New Egypt had one other close score, a 2-1 win over Palmyra, but the Warriors had a 22-4 edge in shots and did not give up the goal until the closing minute of the match.

“It’s all three phases (offense, midfield and defense) for our success, but I was not pleased with the defense for the first three games because we needed better communication and marking and they took up that challenge well,” coach Sam Palumbo said.

Palumbo credits the team chemistry and the players’ commitment to an off-season strength and conditioning program.

“In the first three or four games we were able to play 40 or 50 good minutes of soccer, but against Holy Cross it was the first time we played a full 80 minutes of soccer,” he said. Holy Cross scored in the sixth minute to grab a 1-0 lead, but Sample answered for New Egypt moments later and the score stayed 1-1 at halftime.

In the second half, Sample converted a penalty kick, Ward scored two goals, and junior Ken Johnston also found the back of the net as the Warriors prevailed.

Junior Eric Wig plays the other centerhalfback spot and Vinny Masitti, a sophomore, is at one outside halfback spot, while Johnston and junior Kennard Taylor share time at the other outside halfback spot.

New Egypt has a big stretch of soccer this week with matches scheduled against Colonial Valley Conference Liberty Division (larger schools) defending champion Burlington City on Sept. 24, a game at Maple Shade on Sept. 26, a home game against Medford Tech on Sept. 27 and a game at Riverside on Sept. 29.

“We all want it so much,” Coyle said of the Warriors’ quest for a successful season. “We know this group has the skill to do something special. We know this is our year.”

Juniors Ryan Grasso and Connor Ingenbrandt share the goalkeeping. The starter depends on the opponent, Palumbo said.

Ingenbrandt has the quickness to cope with fast teams, and Grasso can deal with big, physical teams, according to the coach. The player who does not start the match plays in goal in the second half.

Defense is key, according to Palumbo, who said it starts with junior stopper Ken Stillwell.

“He is instrumental because he wins 50/50 balls and nothing hits the ground inside the 18 with him,” Palumbo said.

Junior sweeper Matt Dey, the team captain, and senior outside backs Pete Variello and Hunter Lang provide strong support. Sophomore reserves David Calabrese and Raphael Archer can fill in at many different positions, the coach said.