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updated: 10/5/2013 6:07 PM

Burlington Central wins title at Hampshire

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By Marty Maciaszek
Daily Herald Correspondent

Rumbles of thunder forced the championship match of Hampshire's boys soccer tournament to be called with three minutes and 16 seconds to play Saturday afternoon.

Burlington Central made sure it was well on its way to a repeat title by that time thanks to some quick strikes much earlier in its match against the host Whip-Purs.

Senior midfielder Matthew O'Connor scored the first of his 2 goals less than two minutes in and the Rockets connected three times in the first 20 minutes as they extended their winning streak to 14 with a 4-1 victory.

"That was big for us," said O'Connor, whose team also beat Genoa-Kingston 5-0 on Saturday morning. "We've been doing that a lot this season. We get up early and put teams away as fast as we can.

"They fought back in the second half but we did a good job of keeping under control and keeping the game in our hands."

Jacob Schutta and Alan Camarena also scored to push Burlington Central (16-1-0) to a 3-0 lead.

"The way we start off the game is usually the way the game goes," Schutta said. "Once we build the lead, it builds confidence. We've had a great season so far so that's big for us."

The play of Stefan Jochum, Paolo Sespene, Jose Uribe, Sean Fitzgerald and Austin VanAcker and keeper Brett Rau has also been crucial to the sizzling start for a program that won 17 games last year and 20 en route to a fourth-place finish in Class 2A in 2010.

"We had a great summer so personally I expected to do this," Schutta said.

"We knew this was possible," O'Connor said. "We could have gone undefeated so far but we made a made a mistake early in the season (loss to DeKalb). Since then we've done a good job of putting each team away."

Hampshire (5-12-1) did make it interesting when sophomore Tyler Koppie beat Rau to a loose ball in the box and scored midway through the second half. Moving senior Paul Novacovici from center-midfield to sweeper also made a difference.

"We need to compete and in the first half we kind of didn't," said Hampshire coach John Gosling. "All we're asking the guys to do is just compete.

"We're still searching and if we show up to play, we're pretty good. Sometimes we take a little bit of time to show up and you can't do that. When you're young and inexperienced you can't show up 15 or 20 minutes into a game."

Central regained the 3-goal cushion when sophomore Cole Tecza made a nice move on the left side and found O'Connor at the far post for a one-touch goal with 11:43 left.

"Some of our players off the bench today did a great job of stepping up," said Central coach Mike Gecan. "They gave us fresh legs and they were getting better and better.

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