ORADELL--River Dell boys soccer coach Kevin Sabella felt his team's home opener against Mahwah on Monday was an extension of the season opener versus Indian Hills that took place over the weekend. Sabella liked the way the Hawks played against the Braves, despite his side coming away with a 2-1 loss after conceding the winning goal with 25 seconds remaining.
"We came back Sunday and had a nice little practice," Sabella said after the game. "And everything started clicking today."
After having trouble burying chances against Indian Hills, River Dell (1-1-0) scored two first half goals—including one in the first two minutes—to beat Mahwah 2-1 at home on the grass field on a warm Monday afternoon.
Senior co-captain Craig Marullis put the Hawks on the board with a superb header off of a throw-in by sophomore fullback Chris Vandeweghe.
Marullis said that the team was "more aggressive" this time out.
"To bounce back [from the loss] really says a lot about our team," Marullis said.
The Hawks would increase their lead when Anthony Sare ran down the right sideline and delivered a well-placed cross to teammate Jose Aparcio, a transfer student from Spain, who found the back of the net after making a quality supporting run towards the goal.
River Dell struggled at times defensively, with players out of position, but still limited Mahwah's scoring chances. The Hawks nearly conceded twice after set pieces, but the T-Birds came up empty, notably in the second half, when a Mahwah counter attack was spoiled by a foul by forward James Kayal, and subsequent booking.
The T-Birds would score early on in the second half when midfielder Adam Reckseit netted a pass from Jordan Kayal.
David Sorkenn, River Dell's keeper, made nine saves, including a nice parry of a headed effort and diving to his right to save a potential equalizer.
Marullis felt his team got tired and "let their guard down" against Indian Hills, and he didn't want a repeat.
"We stayed tough defensively [despite conceding,]" he said.
"We're starting to understand what we need to do," Sabella said. "Man up on defense, send the ball up field and move up and press the other team."
While Sabella admits his side won't "wow teams with our technical ability," he wants athletes that "want to work hard."
The Hawks put together a workmanlike effort. Despite losing possession and allowing Mahwah to push forward—especially in the second half—the back line, anchored by senior co-captains Chris Bascomb, Sam Becourtney and Zac Rossenoff, either forced bad shots or cleared away any potential danger other than Reckseit's goal.
"I think it's a pretty big win for us," Marullis said.
The Hawks take on the Bergenfield Bears on Friday, 4:15pm at the Bears' home turf.