East boys soccer battles hard against West, ends in scoreless tie


Lucas Tang ('23)

East fights hard in scoreless tie vs West.

Nothing defines a rivalry more than a battle between two opposing sides of one town. Whether it be soccer, basketball, football, or any competition, a Cherry Hill East vs Cherry Hill West matchup is always met with huge fanfare and roaring anticipation from both sides. The previous matchup saw the Cougars come away with a 4-2 victory over the Lions. Adam Blumenthal’s (‘23) hat-trick sealed that win at Decou Sports Complex. 

However, this year would be different. The game was set to be played at West, a completely different environment without the crucial home-field advantage that East benefits from so much. East would also be playing without their head coach, Mike Melograna, who would be replaced by freshman coach Greg DeWolf for the game.

 Nonetheless, the 7:30 kickoff whistle blew and the match had begun. East could have taken the lead early through a free kick from Adam Blumenthal, which looked to curve towards the right corner of West’s net before bouncing off the crossbar. West was able to control the ball most of the half and had multiple scoring chances. A through ball managed to get through the East defense as West’s Peter Graffeo (‘23) rounded East’s Tom Piotrowski (‘24) before tapping the ball into the empty net. Unfortunately for Graffeo, the linesman’s flag had come up for offsides meaning the goal would be ruled off. The half ended 0-0 as both teams came off the field for adjustments towards the second half of the game.

The second half would be a completely different story as East would be able to control the ball for most of the half. East’s defense and midfield controlled the field and prevented West from getting any touches on the ball. East’s center-back pairing of Evan Pfeiffenberger (‘23) and Trey Shaw (‘23) held off any of West’s progressions in the center. Alongside them are outside backs Ethan Reilly (‘23) and Omar Pollard (‘24) who both prevented any of West’s wingers from getting balls into the center of East’s box. Goalkeeper Tom Piotrowski (‘24) made multiple difficult saves against West’s quick offense throughout the game and earned a shutout. Midfielders Ian Ferdas (‘24) and Henry Dombrowski (‘25) controlled the ball in West’s half while wingers Eitan Volodarski (‘23) and Alec Herring (‘23) created opportunities for East’s forwards. 

Both sides were unable to decide a winner in the second half, which meant overtime would determine the victor. East continued their pressure from the second half as shots from Volodarski and Herring forced West’s goalkeeper Leo Orefice (‘24) to make a double save. An East set piece found the head of Pfeiffenberger, which bounced off the crossbar before rebounded into the net. East fans cheered in celebration only to learn that the ball had actually gone off the crossbar of the field goal post and therefore, the goal would not count.

The match became more physical as Graffeo’s counterattack was stopped by Pollard leading to a shove from Graffeo and a yellow card for the West captain. This forced his coach to sub him out. East’s ‘Countrymen’ joined in on boos and chants such as “you can’t do that,” ultimately raising tension between both sides.

Second overtime would be needed as both teams still have yet to find the back of the net. East continued attacking the net only to be met with saves by Orefice. West’s attacks were continuously met with a strong defensive core of Shaw and Pfeiffenberger. The final seconds ticked off and the buzzer sounded. Both teams met in the center to shake hands as the match finished 0-0.

While the matchup ended without any goals, the rivalry lives on through the players. This cross-town rivalry extends beyond the sport, the players, or the fans. The bragging rights between both schools extends to anything so long it involves both of them and the right to claim superiority over the other. This hard-fought matchup ends in the sharing of praise amongst both sides.