East boys soccer defeats Bishop Eustace 5-2 on senior night

It was calm before the storm on Tuesday night as East commemorated their Cougar seniors. The sun was setting beyond Decou Sports Complex while seniors were honored with their families. East was 2-3 heading into the matchup and in need of a win. The dusk of 6:00 on October 20th provided the perfect setting for the Cougars to make their mark.

The game got off to a rocky start as East conceded a penalty kick to the Crusaders early on. That would be the only goal Matt Mueller (‘21) let by, and Billy Pickering (‘21) would have little impact on the rest of the game. The Cougars would spend the next ten minutes pressuring Eustace’s back line, forcing several turnovers and creating many chances.

A Hank Feudtner (‘21) cross was nearly converted, but Adam Blumenthal (‘23), Hugo Campoverde (‘21) and Luke Luehrs (‘21) were all just inches away. Another close chance saw Luke Luehrs nearly tap it past the goalkeeper, but was cleared wide. A rip from distance hit the crossbar as Blumenthal searched for that elusive first goal on the night.

Several other chances saw great ball movement set up Campoverde who hit the post, and Feudtner and Rei O’brien (‘21) would continue to float in perfect crosses all night. Jakub Semelko (‘23), Alec Herring (‘23) and Drew Luehrs (‘21) got in on action in the box, but East would finish the half down 1-0.

The second half was a different story. Goalkeeper Patrick Keller (‘21) stepped into net for the Cougars, celebrating his 18th birthday trying to close out what could be the comeback of the year.

Blumenthal would get on the board first, taking a small touch to his right and firing a shot into the far bottom left corner, celebrating with his team who went wild on the sideline. The duo of Feudtner and O’brien worked the ball down the right sideline all half, while Semelko would run the left side.

Forward Tobey Maidenberg (‘21), who would have three close misses on the night, barely missed a shot wide of the net. Maidenberg would be a key player down the stretch for the Cougars.

The Eustace goalkeeper began to crumble under the East pressure, fumbling the ball for a corner as East would keep the ball in the Eustace half for over ten minutes straight. Seniors Robbie Awaide and Campoverde would begin to work the ball in the midfield, opening up plenty of opportunities for East.
The boys would finish with 17 shots on goal, a season high for the Cougars, and nearly a third of them would hit the back of the net. But, the first Eustace attack all half would turn into a Crusader goal after Liam Higgins (‘23) tucked one past Keller in a defensive breakdown. The East goalies would combine for 4 saves, and were big contributors to the great team win.

The Cougars continued to show their signature flare that has been present all season as they used dummy plays and flicked on passes to create scoring chances. The Cougars would tie it up with a quick cross from Rei O’brien and a shot from Luke Luehrs that went into the bottom bin for East’s second goal.

After a few misses wide and over, an East corner would see Campoverde whip it in near post and Luke Luehrs connecting on a powerful header that soared past the goalkeeper and gave East a 3-2 lead. 13 minutes remained, and the crowd began to get into the game as the sun went down and the lights came on.

Robbie Awaida would soon get on the score sheet with a far shot with his left foot proving too high for the goalkeeper who could only get a slight touch on the ball. The Cougars were truly rolling as they stormed ahead to a 4-2 lead.

Another goal would be scored two minutes later as Drew Luehrs would flick the ball over his and the goalie’s head, where his brother Luke was there to touch it home. Luke would finish with a hat-trick in what was one of the biggest games of the year.

“It was really a terrific team win,” said Luke Luehrs. “For all of us it was just another game, but it is certainly a memory I will hold on to.”

Congratulations to senior captains Luke Brown, Matt Mueller, Patrick Keller, Rei O’brien, Hank Feudtner, Hugo Campoverde, Luke Luehrs and Drew Luehrs.

Also, congratulations to seniors Tomer Butbul, Jordan Grossman, Ryan Lafferty, Tobey Maidenberg, Robert Awaida, Simon De Groot, Allen Gao, Macy Desmond, Dohyun Kim and Alan Zheng on successful East careers.

Special thanks to their families for helping each player along the way.

The Cougars face Lenape at Decou on Thursday before a packed week against Seneca, Cherokee and West Deptford. Roll Cougs.