After 40 minutes of play in the championship game of the South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament against Kingsway, Cinnaminson head coach Matt Digney found his team in an unfamiliar situation for the BCSL Patriot Division champions.
A 1-0 hole at the half stood in the way of the Pirates claiming their third program Coaches Cup title, having last won the tournament in 1979.
“We came out a little sluggish and nervous at first and it showed, Kingsway played really well from the start but we were able to eventually settle in nicely after a bit,” Digney said. “[Kingsway] jumped us at the start. I was pleased with the last 10 minutes or so of the first half so I tried to use that as a positive when talking with the boys at half because we were still very much in it and the game ended up being much more balanced in the second half.”
Having gone 14-1-1 during the regular season, earning themselves a No. 2 ranking in the latest statewide Group II rankings from NJ.com, Cinnaminson has proved themselves to be a team that can stick with the best of opponents thus far this season.
The Pirates went on to score two unanswered goals in the second half to clinch the Coaches Cup victory, with junior Aidan Quinn-Wright scoring the equalizer before fellow junior Christian Palmer scored the go-ahead goal about halfway through the second half.
Quinn-Wright, who’s been a big component of the Cinnaminson offense this season, said the team came out of the first half staying positive and trusting one another to their jobs on the field throughout the final 40 minutes.
“We all had confidence in ourselves,” Quinn-Wright said. “We knew it was only one goal and whatever that score was we were going to keep working hard no matter what. We came out fired up in the second half and got the momentum… and after we scored the first one it lifted up our momentum even more and that was it.
“Our defense is great, our midfield is great, our forwards are great… we have a nice squad all around and everyone does their job to work together and play for each other,” he added.
Quinn-Wright, who’s eight goals this season are good for the third most behind seniors Nathan Weick and Colin Kenville, has continued to be a dominant force in the middle of the field for Cinnaminson this season despite not always getting the credit he deserves, according to Digney.
“Aidan has been super steady for us all season in the middle of the field,” Digney said. “He’s been a little bit of an unsung hero, he’s not a super flashy-type player but he’s a grinder and always finds himself in the right place at the right time. He’s a tremendous player that plays that position in a super smart way.”
Senior goalie Sean Kennedy made a handful of big saves throughout the second half to secure the victory for Cinnaminson, having only allowed a handful of goals all season after Kennedy went a program-record 813 minutes without allowing a goal during the regular season.
After a shaky start, Kennedy and the rest of the team got more comfortable and got back to their style of soccer in order to pull out the win.
“At the end of the first half we kind of found our footing, we just knew that we had to keep it that way since that’s how we play best and how we were going to be able to come back,” Kennedy said. “The Coaches Cup is a big deal, we wanted a little bit of silverware this season after what happened last year, but we still have the playoffs to look at now and we want to succeed there too.”