Colts, Eagles open season with county relay victories

first_imgStaff Writer Christian Brothers Academy, Middletown, experienced a rare down season in cross-country in the fall (if only winning the Parochial A state championship can be considered an off-season). But any thoughts that it might carry over to the indoor track season, were quickly removed at the Monmouth County Relays where the Colts easily outdistanced the field Dec. 22. The Colts rolled up 70 points, more than doubling the total of runner-up Wall (32). Meanwhile, Middletown South’s girls withstood host Red Bank Regional’s challenge to capture the county relay title, 48-33. The Colts flexed their muscles everywhere, in the sprints, hurdles, distances and high-jumping, totaling four wins in all. CBA won four relays on the track. The team of Joe Drew, Paul Discepola, Paul Cawley and Matt Treharne held off Wall in the 4×400 relay, 3:39.05. Discepola, Peter Glackin, Bret Fiorovanti and Jeff Peterson won the 4×800 in 8:30.39. The sprint medley was CBA’s as well, as Cawley, Chris Vuono, Treharne and Peterson teamed up to win the 1,600-meter event in 3:50.05. The Colts’ fourth track win was the hurdles, where the foursome of Devin Barry, Discepola, Dan McLeod and Drew posted a 28.28 to nip Wall (28.30) in the 4×50 shuttle hurdles. Keith Cashman finished in a four-way tie for first in the high jump at 6-0 for CBA. But in the high-jump relay, the Colts were edged by Holmdel, 12-0 to 11-8 as the Hornets’ Charles DiFazio and Jonathan Kwong both cleared 6-0. Holmdel had a good meet finishing fourth (18), sparked by high jumper DiFazio and Kwong. South’s Eagles relied on the same balance as the Colts to turn back the Bucs in the girls’ championship race. South had two winning teams. Lauren Dike, Tina Morrison, Blair O’Brien and Kolleen McCauley easily won the 4×400 relay in 4:28.00 for the Eagles. Morrison, Andrea Emanuele, Maura McCall and McCauley won the sprint medley in 4:44.89. RBR did have three wins, but the Eagles were able to offset it by finishing second to the Bucs in the 4×800 (10:29.40-10:36.03) and third in the distance medley (13:22.75-13:41.56). Dike, Anne Castellano, Jamie Liberti and cross-country star Nicole Lombardy teamed up in the 4×800, and in the distance medley, it was Rickie Lee DeMaio, Liberti, Lindsay Dike and Lombardy. Middletown North won the shot-put relay, led by Carol Henn, whose 34-4 1/2 was second best on the day behind Freehold Borough’s Diana Costanzo (39-0 3/4). Teammate Jamie Barakakos reached 29-10, and the 64-2 1/2 total topped Freehold Borough’s (63-9 1/2). Middletown South picked up important points here with a third place, led by Nicole Byer (31-0 1/2) and Dominique Iopicco (27-8 3/4), who combined for 58-9 1/4. The Lions were fifth (18) in the team competition. Next up for the track and field stars are the NJISAA Group Relays at Princeton University. They start Sunday with Groups II and III. Groups I and IV go Jan. 13. By tim morris last_img read more

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Lions start to round into form on softball diamond

first_img By doug mckenzie Staff Writer FARRAH MAFFAI Middletown North’s Bonnie Stenger gets set to fire a pitch during the Lions’ win over Holmdel in Middletown on Friday. The Middletown North girls’ softball team is in the unenviable position of playing the Shore Conference’s Class A North Division. For that reason, their 7-3 mark entering this week’s play is a bit deceiving. Among those losses are a pair of close defeats to top-ranked Freehold Township and fourth-ranked Middletown South, the two teams battling it out for A North’s top spot. But North head coach Don Fadden isn’t concerning himself with the division race, acknowledging that it’s very unlikely that the Lions could capture the crown. Instead, he’s preparing his girls for the postseason, where he believes his Lady Lions will be a very dangerous team. “The way we’re starting to come around offensively, I don’t think there’s a team out there that will look forward to playing us,” he said. “We’re starting to play to our potential.” The Lions, who played Marlboro on Monday before facing Red Bank Catholic yesterday in the Lady Buc Tournament, are coming off a 4-0 blanking of a good Holmdel team. In that game, University of Tampa-bound senior Bonnie Stenger registered her second shutout and continued her impressive season. “She hasn’t pitched a poor game yet,” Fadden said. “She’s 5-3, but lost a 3-1 game to Township where we gave up some unearned runs, and had the same thing happen against South.” Stenger, who emerged as the team’s pitcher last year, has tremendous control and is averaging about one strikeout per inning. Her ERA is under 1.00, and she has been better than Fadden could have hoped for through the first half of the year. “She came out of nowhere last year and has done a really nice job for us,” he said. “The big bonus is that she’s also hitting the ball well. In the past we always hit for her, but this year she’s up around .390, so I can’t take her bat out of the lineup.” The Lions’ offense is headed by shortstop Kelly Goodbody, a four-year starter who Fadden believes is the best fielding shortstop in the Shore. “Last year she made one error in 24 games, which is unheard of, not to mention a school record,” he said. “And the one error she made was a low throw to first that would have been an infield hit anyway, and allowed the runner to advance to second. “Offensively, she does a lot of things that we take for granted,” he continued. “She has great speed and a knack for getting on base.” Senior catcher Megan Smith, another four-year starter, is also off to a fast start offensively with a team-high nine RBIs. “She’s been our leading hitter the last two years, and has done a real nice job in the three-hole. We love to get runners on base for her because she usually comes through with a hit in those situations.” Second baseman Jenna Provost’s average is hovering .390, and she is providing good leadership in the infield, according to Fadden. Junior third baseman Katie Fallon is also playing well and is batting around .370 from the No. 2 hole. The remainder of the starting lineup is beginning to get hot as well, with junior left fielder Caitlyn Piasecki, sophomore right fielder Tiffany Maltais and freshman center fielder Kristie Fearon showing signs of improvement as well. Freshman first baseman Gina Soldo has been the team’s “pleasant surprise,” according to Fadden. “I was keeping her as a backup, but her hitting has kept her in the lineup so far,” he said. “She puts the bat on the ball and doesn’t strike out much.” The rest of the team includes senior utility player Christina Karmon, junior outfielder Courtney Bartinato, and sophomores Tracy Crist and Adrienne Angelone. With the second half of the season under way, Fadden is expecting big things from his squad. “These are great kids, win or lose, and they’re working very hard,” he said. “Our pitching has been steady, and the defense is coming around, so if we can generate some offense, we’ll be tough to beat. “We can beat good teams as long as we’re not giving them any big innings,” he said. “We just can’t make mistakes that lead to extra outs because we can’t overcome those big innings against the good teams.”last_img read more

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Melofchik second in 1,600 as Colts finish third

first_img BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer At Group IV state championships BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Middletown North’s Autumn Breeze (l) competes in the 55-meter hurdles at the Group IV Championships at Princeton on Sunday. Above, CBA’s Theo Sheheen competes in the 3,200-meter race. PRINCETON — Led by Will Melofchik’s second place in the 1,600, Christian Brothers Academy placed third at Sunday’s NJISAA Group IV Indoor Track and Field Championships. The Colts scored 22 points and lost a tight three-way battle for the trophy to Vineland (28) and Old Bridge (24) at Princeton University. Melofchik, who entered the race with the third best time for the one-mile, 4:17.53, lost at the line in a tactical 1,600 meters getting out-kicked by Carmen Cavella of Washington Township, 4:26.96-4:26.98. Both turned back Paterson Kennedy’s Mohammed Khadraoui (4:27.3), who was trying to double. Khadraoui, the state cross country champion, won the 3,200 meters earlier in the meet in one of the most spectacular races in state history. Khadraoui (9:02.72) and Hunterdon Central’s Chris Pannone (9:02.84) produced the second and third fastest indoor 3,200s in state history. They both smashed the old Group IV record of 9:10.92 held by CBA’s John Coyle, who set the mark back in 1989. In the 800 meters, the Colts’ Brett Fiorovanti took third (1:58.9) running his best undercover time of the season. Steve Iannocone from Toms River East used a late charge to win in 1:58.25. The Colts’ other points came from their Millrose Games-bound 1,600-meter relay team anchored by Chris Vuono, which finished second (3:29.17) to Vineland (3:28.06). The top six individuals and six wild cards advanced from Sunday’s Group I and IV championships to the Feb. 29 NJSIAA Meet of Champions, also to be held at Princeton. Groups II and III will get their turns at state championships on Feb. 15 at Princeton. Raritan’s Amanda Harmata, competing indoors for the first time in her career, could win her first indoor state title here in the shot put. The Rocket senior has the sixth best throw in the state, 40-10. In the boys shot put, Matawan’s Keller is another contender. His 52-3 is the ninth best in the state in 2004. Saturday, Monmouth County championships will be on the line at Red Bank Regional High School. CBA is the defending champion in the boys competition while Middletown South took home the honors for the girls last year. The meet is schedule for a 2 p.m. start. At Group IVstate championships last_img read more

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CBA completes its march into history

first_img BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer PHOTOS BY FARRAH MAFFAI staff Members of the CBA cross-country team cross the finish line in style as they broke the national record for consecutive dual meet victories with a win over Middletown North on Thursday in Lincroft. Below, the appreciative CBAfaithful cheer on the team as they near the finish line. Christian Brothers Academy’s class of 2005 had its rendezvous with destiny Thursday. Thirty years of CBA cross country perfection came to a head on a gray, misty afternoon in front of a large, appreciative crowd when the Colts won their national record 266th straight dual meet. Led by its seniors, Nick DiChiara, Brian Keating and Derek Jensen, CBA beat Middletown North, 15-50, to break the national record for consecutive dual meet victories of 265 first set by Blackstone-Millville (Massachusetts). The Colts had tied the national record on Sept. 28, beating Marlboro, 20-43. That win, also in Lincroft, set off a 48-hour frenzy as everyone knew that on Thursday, the Colts would be running for a national record on their home course. One of those most caught up in the whirlwind was DiChiara, the fourth DiChiara brother to run for coach Tom Heath at CBA. “My brothers weren’t able to be here, but they were in spirit,” he said. “They all called me last night and they told me they were all proud of me.” With history just over 17:00 away and rabid CBA fans, many of the ex-CBA runners, cheering them on, the Colts had the sixth man on their side. “There was so much adrenaline going through you,” said DiChiara of the race. “It was so emotional and so exciting. There was such a great turnout. The crowd was all over you.” The meet itself was anti-climactic as 13 Colts ran together over their 5K home course, with Keating getting the first-place card in a time of 17:09 over the rain-soaked course on the CBA campus. The Colts fans cheered the runners from both teams participating in the historic race. CBA’s seniors were aware of their special place in history from day one. The countdown was on, with the streak having gone well past 200. Adding up seven dual meets a year, the freshmen of 2001 knew that when they were seniors in the fall of 2004, they would be the ones who would have the opportunity to break the record. They were the ones that fortune would shine on, but they were always aware that without three decades of work preceding them, it wouldn’t have happened. “It was fortunate for us; we just lucked out that we were the ones to break the record,” DiChiara pointed. “We got to run the race, but everybody from the last 30 years who put into it gets the credit. I’m proud of what this team has done.” DiChiara followed in the footsteps of brothers Thomas (class of ’95), Joe (’96) and Jeff (’00). He said that he always knew from the start he would run for CBA. He was a fourth-grader standing on the sidewalk, watching his brothers, when Thomas led the Colts to their 200th straight win. “At the time, I didn’t understand the tradition,” he noted. Now, as one of those who have contributed to the streak over those 30 years, he understands how special not only the record, but the CBA tradition is. It’s the reason that John Coyle, class of 1989, scholastic all-American and CBA’s best cross country runner, flew in from San Francisco, where he is an investment banker now. He, like so many ex-Colts runners present for the race, wouldn’t have missed the chance to stand in the rain to share in CBA’s historic moment for the world. The streak, in his time, was in the 120s, he noted, and hadn’t become the subject of national record possibilities. “It was accepted that you won dual meets,” recalled Coyle, who ran at the college level at Notre Dame, and after graduation for the Nike Farm Team in San Francisco. Through “the streak” there has always been the 58-year-old Heath. He is the mentor and architect of CBA distance running. He has created a tradition second to none and a program that seems to bring the best out in everyone. When you run for CBA, you are not running just for yourself, but the uniform and all those who have gone on before you. CBA is family, and it’s up to each team to carry on the tradition and make its own mark. That’s the byproduct of Heath’s approach. “The credit goes to Tom Heath,” Coyle pointed out. “He’s very, very rare. He’s about instilling a level of confidence in his athletes. He has a system that works if you just follow the rules. If you don’t, there are consequences; if you do, you know there are great rewards. “When you toe the line, everyone is prepared, you just focus on what you can do,” he said. Unlike CBA’s other achievements — the national and Penn Relay championships, the record 13 Meet of Champions cross country championships — this record was for the every man, and Heath is aware of that more than anyone else. It wasn’t just the Coyles and (Brian) Kerwins (CBA’s only MOC individual winner) who made this record possible. It was those who may never have run in a state championship race, but ran hard enough and well enough in dual meets to keep the streak going over the years. “Our sophomores and juniors run the dual meets,” said Heath. “It’s [the streak] all part of them, not just the elite. It’s the whole group.” And the whole group shared in CBA’s unmatched record, and 30 years of perfection. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer Colts harriers set national record with 266th straight win last_img read more

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Holmdel junior Legion team playing well early

first_imgEighteen players from the Holmdel High School baseball program are playing for the Union Beach Post 321 entry in the Monmouth County Junior American Legion baseball league this summer. Thus far the team is 2-1-2, with victories over CBA and Howell, a loss to Manalapan and a pair of ties against Marlboro and Freehold Township, in the latter contest Holmdel came back from a six-run deficit before darkness set in. “Last year, our junior legion team struggled, but this season we have a good mix of power and defense and some solid pitchers,” said Tom Hyland, one of the team’s coaches. “It’s a very balanced team.” Hyland noted that the pitching has been particularly good in the early going. Sophomore Jason Fernandez went the distance in the triumph over Howell, and junior Joe Solfaro picked up a win against CBA. In addition, sophomore Jean-Luc Orlando has had two strong outings. Fernandez, infielders Billy Allingham and Rob Palermo, and lefty-hitting first baseman Kevin Butler have been hitting well, all are sophomores. Junior third baseman Matt DiMaso, sophomore catcher Jason Hyland and freshman third baseman/catcher Trevor Sackawitch have all shown power at the plate. The younger Hyland, Sackawitch and junior second baseman Ryan Barber have played especially well on defense. In addition, the pitching staff is deep. Butler, Palermo and sophomores Chris Chrisalli and Anthony Patris provide plenty of depth. Other members of the team include sophomores Daniel Marrelli, a first baseman/DH; and Anthony Solfaro and Fran Van Cleeve, both outfielders; along with freshmen infielder Brendan Tschaen and outfielders John Calis and Michael Moryto. The senior Hyland noted that the presence Garber, Orlando and Joe Solfaro, all of whom saw some varsity time this year, is a steadying influence on the team. “Most of our guys are from the junior varsity and freshman teams, so it’s important that we have more experienced players who can be leaders,” he said. “It’s good for our younger guys because they have someone to look up to and it’s good for the varsity guys to be leaders.” Hyland noted that the junior legion league gives the younger players in coach Ed Reckage’s Holmdel program a chance to continue playing at a high level past the scholastic experience. “More game experience is a good thing,” he said. Besides the senior Hyland, the team’s coaches include John Calia, Joe Fernandez, Todd Sackawitch and Mike Tuozzo, a former Holmdel player. – Warren Rappleyealast_img read more

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Jersey Fusion off to a strong start

first_img The Jersey Fusion, a first-year women’s semi-pro basketball team, has gotten off to a fast start. Jersey Fusion The 3-1 Fusion play at the Red Bank Salvation Army as a first-year team for the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League. The Fusion are coached and owned by former Monmouth University player Audrey Taylor. Taylor explained what semi-pro actually means. “These are pro-level athletes at lower skill levels,” Taylor said. “There are some players who used to — and still do — play overseas, as well as some former WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association] players.” Taylor is currently in her fourth year as the assistant coach of the Cardinal McCarrick High School Lady Eagles in South Amboy. Prior to coaching at Cardinal Mc- Carrick, she spent time as an assistant coach at Monmouth University and coached and trained youths at recreational facilities in Virginia. Taylor’s longtime friend and partner, Rodney Harris, serves as the Fusion’s director of basketball operations. “I coordinate gym time, transportation, and help the girls with fundraising,” Harris said. “I also act as a scrimmage player against the girls.” Below left: Jersey Fusion’s Geneva Livingston tries to get her hand on a loose ball during the second quarter of the game against the Whitehall Lazers held at the Red Bank Salvation Army on June 20. Harris was a standout basketball player at South River High School from 1983 to 1987 and has amassed a 147-18 record coaching youth basketball for 10 years. Harris has also served full time with the 108th Air Refuel Wing at McGuire Air Force Base for the past 13 years. Harris and Taylor have another business, called Millennium Ballers, which specializes in youth basketball training. So far, the two have enjoyed their fast start but differ on what the expectations were when they were going in. “No, we didn’t expect the early success,” Taylor said. “Being a new team, with the reputation the league has, we didn’t expect to be this good this quick.” “Honestly, I thought we’d be 4-0,” Harris said. “But you’ve got to understand, we are a new team and haven’t gotten to see a lot of the teams play.” According to Taylor, players’ pay varies widely. “It really varies a lot throughout the league,” she said. “Some players get $150 or so per game and some only get compensation for travel.” While the team operates on a low budget, this is an opportunity for the players to showcase their skills on the court. “Hopefully, we get some scouts from the WNBA or overseas [to] come out and see some of the girls play,” Harris said. “These girls can really [play].” The team is composed mostly of local women, including Felecia Harris, Geneva Livingston and Tomora Young, who all hail from Red Bank. “It’s been fun and exciting so far,” Livingston said last week. “We have really started to click.” Livingston has been a friend and summer league teammate of Taylor for the past two years, but said the coach-player relationship has been a smooth transition. “It hasn’t been difficult at all,” Livingston said. “She believes in me and I take what she says as constructive criticism.” The roster includes former college players from Monmouth, Rutgers, Delaware, St. Peter’s College and Rider University among others. Five-foot-9 former Western Michigan Bronco Carrie Moore leads the team. Moore is averaging 23.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Moore led the nation in scoring at Western Michigan during the 2006-07 season by averaging 25.4 points per game. Moore also briefly appeared in the WNBA. “Carrie Moore is our role model,” Taylor said. “She has played in the WNBA and overseas.” Also putting up big numbers is the 5- foot-10 guard Livingston, who is averaging 16.0 points and 6.7 rebounds, and 6-foot-1 Wagner College alumna Leeah Thomas, who is averaging nine points, 8.5 rebounds and one block per game. “Geneva is our on-court leader,” Taylor said. “She is our ‘silent assassin.’ She is a great shooter and very calm out there on the court.” One weakness thus far for the team has been their lack of size and their rebounding deficiencies. “Rebounding has been a problem so far,” Taylor said. “We are believing in each other, and our chemistry is going to be very solid.” “Rebounding has been a problem,” Harris agreed. “We are not really big. “Well, we have some bigger girls, but no true post player,” Harris added. “Everyone wants to be a guard.” “We need to be more consistent on both ends of the court,” said Livingston, who spends time as both a small and power forward. “A lot of what we have discussed after the games has been missing defensive assignments and things like that. “Once we get a little more consistent, we will be very tough to beat,” she added. While the Fusion may not have the size, they have built their early start with speed. “We play an up-tempo, fundamentally sound style,” Taylor said, “a mix of old school and new school. “We have some flashy new-school players,” Taylor added, “but we are fundamental. We box out, run plays and set screens.” The Fusion’s speed also translates on the defensive side of the court, as they play a very active zone to go along with a fullcourt press. “We play two types of defense mostly,” Taylor said. “We play a 3-2 match-up zone as well as a full-court man-to-man press.” One of the challenges of the season is that the teams operate out-of-pocket from the owners. “Fundraising has been difficult as a firstyear team,” Taylor said. “Getting word out and getting people to come to the games has been difficult.” “Being the only women’s semi-pro team in New Jersey, it’s been hard to get people to go to the games,” Livingston said. “It’s been hard to get support, but I think it’s starting to grow because we are winning.” Another challenge for the low-budget team is travel. Teams in the same division include teams from Massachusetts, Delaware, New York City, Long Island, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. According to Taylor, travel has yet to be a problem, and the team takes vans to away games. “Travel has not been too bad,” Taylor said. “They put a four- to five-hour limit on how far a team travels.” “We got up to New Hampshire in four or five hours,” Taylor added. “We made it down to Virginia in about three and a half hours.” So far, the experience has been viewed as a positive one for both Taylor and Harris. “It’s been really exciting so far,” Harris said, adding, “I’m glad I’m a part of this.” “It’s been great so far,” Taylor agreed. The Fusion swept through a home-andhome series with the Massachusetts Marvels, as well as defeating the Delaware Lady Destroyers and losing by 15 to the DC Bluestreakz. The Fusion hosted the 1-1 Whitehall Lazers on June 20 at the Red Bank Salvation Army in the fifth of the 11-game schedule. Tickets may be purchased online at the Fusion’s website, http://www.jerseyfusion. com, or may be purchased on-site. Locals on roster of women’s semi-pro basketball team BY KENNY WALTER Staff Writer last_img read more

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CBA harriers back on top after winning Group title

first_img Tom Heath is not easily impressed. So, when he praised his Christian Brothers Academy’s cross country performance at the NJSIAA Group Championships, you can believe it was special. The Colts were extraordinary as they regained the Non-Public A state championship, and reaffirmed that they are the best team in the state and the favorites to win the Meet of Champions on Saturday at Holmdel Park. The Colts had gone four years without winning a State Group championship, the longest drought in their storied history. They put those failures and frustrations behind them on Nov. 13 when they put on a show beating three-time defending champion Don Bosco, 35-80. Mike Mazzaccaro won the individual Non- Public A championship, posting a 15:41 to get the Colts championship parade off to a great start. He will be a contender for the individual title, along with West Windsor-Plainsboro North’s Jim Rosa and Westfield’s Jeremy Elkaim (who won their respect Group championships). George Kelly was third (16:16), Dan Mykityshyn, seventh (16:23) and Conrad Lippert, 10th (16:29). Completing the scoring for the Colts was William Bragg in 14th (16:37). As if placing their first five runners in the top 14 wasn’t impressive enough, Jack Boyle (16:47) and Aaron Libertore (17:03), CBA’s sixth and seventh runners finished 15th and 20th. As a team, the Colts top five averaged 16:17.20, among the fastest team averages in Holmdel Park history. “It was an extremely good day,” said Heath, who has led the Colts to 22 Group championships. The Colts cross country season began to take shape last spring when George Kelly had a great outdoor season. That gave the Colts three strong runners for the fall at the front in Mazzaccaro and Mykityshyn, who were already proven, and now Kelly. “That made us a very, very elite team,” said Heath. “That’s an awfully tough top three. For CBA to become a state championship team, however, Lippert, Bragg and Boyle had to become more than potential. “They had to learn how to race,” said Health. The trio has improved steadily during the season and is now in peak form, making this a very deep team. Saturday, the Colts will look to extend the MOC record for wins, which stands at 15 to 16. The top three teams from the Group championships plus the top 10 individuals automatically qualified for the MOC. There were two wild card teams, those with the fastest average times among the nonqualifiers and 10 wild cards for the fastest nonqualifying individuals. Mater Dei’s Daniel Polanco ran his way to the MOC by finishing eighth in the Non-Public B race (17:32). The Seraph boys were fourth (134). Holmdel’s Shannon Nelson slipped in as a wild card with her 20:07 in the Group II race. She was 14th, but her time was fast enough to earn an invite to the MOC. The Hornets, the CJ II champions, were fifth (144). BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer last_img read more

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Confident Dutch set to expose Socceroos, Del Bosque under pressure

first_imgGROUP B Game PreviewAUSTRALIAN – HOLLANDAfter the Netherlands’ demolition of holders Spain in their opening World Cup match, Australia will have to plug the dyke to stop a flood of goals from the Oranje in their second Group E game in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.With the 30-year-old Robben playing like a man on a mission to prove himself one of the stars of the tournament and Van Persie, the same age and also on fire, the Dutch are set to give the Socceroos defence a tough day.“It was an amazing start for our World Cup, and I think we’ve made a lot of people very happy, Van Persie told FIFA media. “Now the focus is on Australia, and I think that will be completely different to the game against Spain.“Australia have a very different style and I think we are going to have to adjust our own game to beat them. It’s an interesting process, having to adjust your game every time.”A victory would leave the three-time World Cup runners-up poised to reach the last 16.Since the humiliation of Spain, there has been much talk of a return to the Total Football of the great Dutch teams of the past, but this is still an uncompromising side and Wednesday’s match could be a crunching encounter.Australia must pick themselves up from a 3-1 defeat by a tough and talented Chile side. Still, Aussie bravura was on show ahead of Wednesday.“We just need to be confident and show we can play football like we did for 70 minutes (against Chile),” striker Matthew Leckie told reporters.“Chile is a world-class team and they couldn’t handle us at times. If we do the things we can do good or great it doesn’t matter what team it is, they’re going to have problems.”Coach Ange Postecoglou must, however, do without defender Ivan Franjic, who was ruled out of the tournament with a torn hamstring. With no other right-side defender to call on, his replacement will be Ryan McGowan, who came on for Franjic in Cuiaba.Australia have never lost against the Netherlands yet. In previous meetings, they have drawn twice and Australia grabbed a 2-1 win in Eindhoven in 2008.SPAIN vs CHILEUnder pressure Spanish coach Vincente del BosqueSpain coach Vicente del Bosque has been bombarded with advice about personnel changes he needs to make before Wednesday’s Chile clash ever since the Netherlands game.It remains to be seen whether the genial 63-year-old will make any adjustments following the holders’ woeful second-half performance in their opening match in Salvador but he certainly has plenty of talent to call on if he decides tweaks are needed.Although the scale of Friday’s thrashing was truly shocking, Del Bosque reacted with much the same calm as when Spain slipped to a 1-0 defeat in their opening game in South Africa four years ago before they went on a six-match winning run that secured their first world title.“We may make two or three changes,” Del Bosque said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Cuatro on Monday.“If I make changes we are not pointing the finger at anyone,” he added.“None of the players should be worried, they all have our affection.Captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas looks certain to keep his place despite an error-riddled performance against the Dutch when he lost some of the sheen that earned him the nickname “San Iker” in his native country.One area where Del Bosque could introduce fresh blood is in central defence, with the versatile Javi Martinez waiting in the wings to replace either Sergio Ramos or Gerard Pique.Martinez could also come in for Xabi Alonso to bolster central midfield, an area Spain normally dominate effortlessly but where they were brutally exposed on Friday.Playmaker Xavi, who at 34 is nearing the end of a glittering career, may make way for young pretender Koke, 22, who had a breakthrough season with Atletico Madrid and whom Xavi himself recently named as his natural successor.Chile forward Esteban Paredes said the South Americans, who began their campaign in Brazil with a laboured 3-1 win against Australia in Cuiaba, had been practising their pressing game before the Spain game in Rio De Janeiro.Chile lost 2-1 to the Spanish in the group stage in South Africa and caused the world and European champions problems in a couple of subsequent friendlies, losing 3-2 in September 2011 and drawing 2-2 last September.“We have played a few matches against Spain,” Paredes said on the Chile team website (www.anfp.cl).“It is going to be a matter of life and death for them and a genuine final for us because a win would practically see us through to the next round,” added the 33-year-old.“We are working intensively on our pressing game. No team pressures their opponents like we do and against Spain it won’t be any different.“We are not thinking about going for a draw. We have the mentality to go out and win.”last_img read more

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Nadal survives cramps to avoid shock exit

first_imgBy Greg StutchburyThird seed Rafa Nadal battled through mid-match cramps for more than an hour before he lurched into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2 3-6 6-7(2) 6-3 7-5 victory over American qualifier Tim Smyzcek on Wednesday.Nadal’s performance dropped away drastically in the second set as he sweated profusely and took his time between changeovers before calling for the doctor early in the third set.“I don’t know what was going on,” the 14-time grand slam champion said in a courtside interview. “There was imitation, I started to have cramps in different places. I was not in the perfect shape.”Nadal, who was reportedly bitten by a mosquito under his eye while practising for the match, took some medication during the timeout but could not stop Smyzcek cantering through the third set tiebreak.As fears mounted around Rod Laver Arena that the third seed could suffer an early exit, the man who has a 16-5 record in five-set marathons battled back to open a 5-2 lead in the fourth set before dragging Smyzcek into a decider.The fifth set went on serve until Nadal finally broke the resistance of Smyzcek, whose scrambling game resembles that of former top-five player David Ferrer, in the 11th game before wrapping up the win on his fourth match point.He will next play Israel’s Dudi Sela.last_img read more

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Arsenal miss out on joining leaders with Norwich draw

first_imgArsenal miss out on joining leaders with Norwich drawBy Ian ChadbandArsenal missed the chance to heighten the congestion at the top of the Premier League when a 1-1 draw at Norwich City saw them fail to join leaders Manchester City and Leicester City on Sunday.Arsene Wenger’s side had looked on course to move into second place on 29 points, behind City but ahead of Leicester on goal difference, when Mesut Ozil’s 30th-minute goal underlined their early superiority at Carrow Road.But Lewis Grabban equalised against the run of play just before half-time with the eventual nervy draw for the Gunners leaving them fourth on 27, a point behind Manchester United.In an increasingly open-looking title race, with none of the fancied sides seeming to possess the quality to take control, Tottenham Hotspur also squandered an opportunity to bolster their challenge with a goalless draw at home to champions Chelsea, who dropped a clearly disgruntled Diego Costa.Spurs have 25 points in fifth place but the Jurgen Klopp juggernaut chugged on with the German’s first league win at Anfield as Liverpool earned a laboured 1-0 victory over Swansea City to go sixth on 23 points with a James Milner penalty.West Ham United’s sparkling start to the season continued to fade as Winston Reid’s own goal just after the break earned West Bromwich Albion a 1-1 draw at Upton Park after Mauro Zarate’s brilliant 17th-minute free-kick.last_img read more

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