Washington Township No. 1 Story

Washington Township No. 1 Story Washington Township The No. 1 Story in SJ Boys’ Soccer Washington Township’s boys soccer entered the season with the highest of expectations and then the Minutemen went out and showed why. The Minutemen began the season as South Jersey’s No. 1 team and ended it there after earning the first state Group 4 title in the program’s history.

Washington Township suffered an early regular season loss to Eastern and then went unbeaten the rest of the way during a 26-1 campaign.

Not only that, but Washington Township was named the state’s No. 1 ranked team by NJ.com.

The season was capped off with a 1-0 win over Scotch Plains in the state Group 4 title game. An early goal in the state final by Zach Burns held up for coach Shane Snyder’s Minutemen. This capped a strong two-year run by the Minutemen, who went 51-2 over the past two seasons.

The one loss last year came to Clearview in the South Jersey Group 4 final, a game in which the Minutemen had their chances, but weren’t able to capitalize against an excellent Pioneers team.

So this year the expectations were extremely high.

Not only did the Minutemen win the South Jersey and state titles, but for the second year in a row they were the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association champion. That is the tournament that consists of the top 16 teams in South Jersey.

Midfielder Lou Vilotti was named an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of American.

Vilotti had 16 goals and 30 assists, but that only told part of the story. He was the one who directed the offense and got it moving while also being a cog in a defense that was air-tight.

A person who always looked to set up his teammates, Vilotti set a school record with 50 career assists.

Forward Derek MacKinnon was named The Philadelphia Inquirer South Jersey Player of the Year after getting 19 goals and 15 assists.

Last season, MacKinnon’s season ended with a knee injury during a South Jersey Group 4 semifinal win over Shawnee.

This year, he scored one big goal after another. He had the game-winner in overtime during Washington Township’s 3-2 win over Cherokee in the Coaches Tournament championship games. Then, facing that same Chiefs team, MacKinnon scored both goals in a 2-1 South Jersey Group 4 semifinal victory.

MacKinnon, with an assist from Vilotti, then scored the lone goal in Township’s 1-0 victory over Toms River North in the South Jersey Group 4 final.

He then added a game-winning goal in Township’s 2-1 state Group 4 semifinal win over Manalapan. It was quite a ride for somebody who played his best in the most significant games.

Township also received an all-star season from forward Burak Ozdemir, who provided 160 goals and 10 assists.

Yet another senior, Ed McCusker was a consensus all-South Jersey defender. He guided a Minuteman defense that recorded 15 shutouts. Junior Travis Yates was strong in goal throughout the season.

The ability to win close games was key for Washington Township. The Minutemen won 12 games by one goal, including their last five, all in the most pressurized of settings. This clutch play enabled the Minutemen to live up to their extremely high preseason expectations.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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