The Haddon Township High School boys’ soccer team reached the top of the mountain in 2011 when it won a Group 1 State championship.
The players that returned from that team remember what it was like to hoist the trophy high and celebrate being the best New Jersey had to offer.
Now they are hungry to do it again.
The Hawks produced a dominant team effort Wednesday afternoon, defeating No. 10 Glassboro, 5-0, in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 quarterfinals.
Haddon Township will face No. 6 Palmyra—which upset No. 3 Schalick, 2-1—Friday in the semifinals.
“Just to match what we did last year would be amazing,” said senior Rich Grim. “That’s the ultimate goal, just to make it back this year, because finding out what it was like was the best thing for all of us.”
Haddon Township went through a swing of emotions early in the first half when the Hawks were whistled for a foul inside the box and a penalty kick was rewarded to Glassboro, seven minutes and 30 seconds into the game. The Glassboro forward missed the kick wide, however, and Haddon Township took advantage. Less than two minutes later, Hawks' striker Kyle Wade penetrated the Glassboro box and chipped a shot over the keeper to give his team a 1-0 advantage. The lead went to 2-0 1:52 later when Mario Mendescu sent a corner kick into the box that Grim rose up and headed home.
“It was just crazy going from a penalty kick where my heart just dropped to five minutes later scoring a goal,” said Grim. “It was so important.”
“We knew it was going to be a close game and we had to jump on them early,” added Wade. “We got the first one and then got the second one on a corner kick from Richie. Everyone stepped up today. We had five goals from five different players so we don’t really have to rely on one guy.”
Haddon Township coach Jim Bonder was pleased with the composure his players showed in the early stages of the game, particularly their ability to not let the awarded penalty kick get them off their game.
“I liked the way that the boys responded,” said Bonder. “They didn’t get too frantic. I think we played equally well in both halves. This was a team we knew we had to find the net and we knew from the scouting report that they wouldn’t give up regardless of the score, and they didn’t. I was just happy that my guys were able to play a solid 80 minutes.”
The Hawks got second-half goals from Matt Charlton, Tyler Easterday and Mandescu to seal the victory.
Two of the goals came off set pieces, an area that the team takes great pride in executing.
“We just want to make sure that we have enough people in different spots inside the box to cover the most important areas, and then we put one of our most skilled guys on the ball and he is usually able to pick out a target,” said Bonder. “We have been pretty successful on set pieces this year.”
Now the focus turns on Palmyra and possibly No. 1 Haddon Heights soon after.
“Obviously our goals are on the South Jersey championship right now,” Wade said. “I think we all fell confident because we have had two really good games.”
Bonder is confident that the team has the right mix of experienced veterans and hungry newcomers that want to taste a championship.
“This team is a very interesting team in the fact that we have a handful of guys that returned from last year’s team who were able to taste some success and we have a lot of new bodies too,” said Bonder. “It’s a nice mix. They guys work hard in practice and bring it to the field.”