SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Take a pair of neighboring division rivals that don’t like each other to begin with and then put heavy implications on the line on top of that and you get what the Monroe and East Brunswick boys soccer teams put out on the line against each other on Thursday night at South Brunswick High School.With a trip to the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament finals on the line in the third meeting between the teams this season, the second-seeded Falcons outlasted third-seeded East Brunswick 1-0 on the heels of Zach Hroch’s 10th minute goal on a header as they’ll play for their second county title in three years on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Colonia High School against the South Brunswick-St. Joseph winner.“The tough part about, a semifinal or final, is we’ve played these guys twice already and now it’s a third time, so it becomes the rivalry and everything else and that’s what we tried to avoid or try to relay to these guys,” Monroe 16th-year coach Steve MacKenzie said. “It’s tough to do, but you get the hard fought game. It was a good battle.”Monroe 17-3-1 had a bevy of scoring opportunities in the first half, as they outshot the Bears 12-5, but could manage only the one goal from Hroch.The second half was extra chippy and physical from both sides, but the scoring chances came much less frequently.“We talk about scoring early in all of our games and we’re confident that we can score,” MacKenzie said. “We were a little unlucky in the first half. In the second half we had a couple of chances to go at them and probably gave the ball up a little too early, but we’re always confident in our attack. We always feel like we can score.”Hroch’s goal came off a rebound on teammate Jeremy Mammen’s shot attempt that was punched out by East Brunswick 13-6-1 goalkeeper Brandon Lillian right near Hroch.“As soon as we’re up, we just want to keep the intensity like that, to keep it high and don’t drop it at all because you can’t give them any chances,” said Hroch, a junior midfielder. “They were getting a lot of throws and we just needed to get the ball cleared and out.”Monroe’s defense, highlighted by the strong play of senior outside backs Justin Thompson and Pat Monaco and senior goalkeeper Bryce Horn, was able to keep a strong East Brunswick attack with a multitude of forwards capable of scoring at bay.“This game just gave us another opportunity to step it up and get our chance to go to a bigger place,” Hroch said. “This is not the end.”Staff writer Mike Becker:

via Monroe outlasts East Brunswick in GMCT semis.

East Brunswick Soccer