This season has been a proverbial roller coaster ride for the Lyndhurst boys soccer team, where even in the midst of a single game the Golden Bears have experienced extreme highs and lows.
Now, as the calendar turns to November, Lyndhurst is coming off of arguably its biggest victory in recent memory.
On Saturday night, Lyndhurst went to top-seeded Harrison and jolted the defending sectional champion Blue Tide, 2-1, in the second round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 tournament.
The win is believed to be Lyndhurst’s first in Harrison in at least 15 years and the Blue Tide have dominated the series in recent years, winning 24 of the previous 26 matchups since 2010. Harrison defeated Lyndhurst twice in the regular season,
Now, the same Lyndhurst (8-9-3) team, which endured a six-game losing streak in October and has been without star striker Tyler Wise for the last four weeks, is in the semifinals for the first time since 2021. Harrison finishes the year with a 14-3-1 record.
“Coming to this game, we had to stick to our plan and count on our strengths,” Lyndhurst head coach Emad Abu-Hakmeh said. “There were no shortcomings (Saturday night). It was like the perfect game you really want to play.”
Unlike those first two matchups when Harrison busted through to take an early lead, it was Lyndhurst who struck first. Robert Dasler Jr. pushed the ball up field on a counter before kicking out to Cyprian Niedbal out on the right side. Niebal crossed it to the center where Isaac Camilo tipped it to Dasler, who scored from 15 yards out, sliding a shot into the lower-far corner in the 31st minute.
It was the team-leading 12th goal of the season for Dasler, who has had a breakout sophomore season.
“Last night, he was the best player on the field,” said Abu-Hakmeh. “He created opportunities, he scored and the last 15, 20 minutes, we dropped him back, we played with five defenders and we dropped him right in the middle. He stopped four or five balls that could have affected the outcome of the game.”
Senior midfielder Derek Morales, who sat out the first 30 days after transferring from Passaic, delivered the exclamation point on the upset in the 77th minute when he roofed a shot from 35 yards out.
“We know that Harrison has one of the best goalies in the area (Ismael Kone),” Abu-Hakmeh said. “So we knew that in order to beat him it had to be far away to the corners or to shoot crazy, random balls and catch him out of position.”
Harrison cut the lead in half, scoring on a rebound with 96 seconds left in the game. But despite a scramble in the box at one point in the final minute, the Blue Tide were unable to get off a potential game-tying shot before the ball was cleared and time expired.
“Our league is very, very competitive. Fortunately for us, (we advanced),” said Abu-Hakmeh, noting that five of the six teams in the NJIC National Division, which was won by Harrison, made it to the semifinals in their respective section. “They’re a great team, there was a lot of emotion and it could have gone either way, but I thought we were the better team (on this night).”
Goalie Matthew Makar, who was in his second game back from injury, made eight saves. Abu-Hakmeh also praised the defense of Camilo and senior captain Fernando Lucero in the center of the field.
Three days earlier, Lyndhurst, seeded ninth in North 2, Group 2, needed eight rounds of penalty kicks to win at eighth-seeded New Providence, a game in which the Golden Bears at one point led 3-0.
Morales scored his first goal of the season in regulation, then added two goals during the penalty kicks, including the game winner in the eighth round. Dasler Jr. had two goals and an assist, and Bartu Akar also scored a goal.
Akar, who now has four goals is one of several who have helped fill some of the scoring void left by the injury to Wise, who had six goals and four assists in seven games. Niedbal, a junior who assumed Wise’s spot up top, has seven goals and seven assists. Sophomore Ariel Trelles-Calle has four goals and four assists in the midfield alongside Morales and Lucero, the only two senior starters.
Next up for Lyndhurst is another road game, this time on Wednesday at a Bernards team that reached the Somerset County final.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.