BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — Beck Lindsay lined up for a free kick about 40 yards from the goal.
Wildwood Catholic already led 2-0, and with the sun on the other side of the field, Lindsay knew Buena Regional’s goalie was struggling to see the ball early in the half.
Instead of setting up a play, Lindsay fired a shot on net that kissed the bottom of the cross bar and went in, giving the Crusaders a 3-0 lead with 13 minutes, 48 seconds left in the half.
Wildwood Catholic tacked on one more goal before halftime and cruised to a 6-1 divisional win over Buena on Wednesday. If the Crusaders beat Pleasantville on Friday, they will lock up the Cape-Atlantic League United Division title.
“We just got lucky and just got ahead of them in the first half,” said Lindsay, a 16-year-old junior from North Cape May. “We got a couple nice goals, and we maintained that toward the end with great defense and our goalkeeper Anthony Zampirri.”
Wildwood Catholic hasn’t won a CAL title since 2007 when it shared the CAL National Division II title with Sacred Heart.
“It’s big for (the players),” Wildwood Catholic coach Mike Saioni said.
Lindsay scored twice and assisted on the game’s first goal, a corner kick that deflected off Ryan Legler and into the net for a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. Olaf Feria also had two goals and an assist, and Jarred Wallace tacked on a goal and an assist.
Randy Knapp added to his CAL lead, netting his 34th goal of the season in the second half for Buena.
“I think we played really strong,” said Zampirri, a senior who made two saves. “We held a strong line, we pressured big time. We didn’t allow (Knapp) much space to run. We got right on him every time he touched the ball and did a good job of locking him down for the most part.”
Wildwood Catholic improved to 11-2 overall and is 7-0 in the United. The Crusaders won their other CAL United game against Buena 7-2 on Sept. 26, and beat Pleasantvile 4-1 two days after.
With four games left in the regular season, the Crusaders have a chance to earn their highest win total since going 14-4 in 2007.
“I have big expectations of what we can do in the playoffs,” Zampirri, 17, of North Wildwood, said.
Saioni took over as head coach of the Crusaders in 2008. He graduated from Wildwood Catholic in 1998 and was the Press Player of the Year in 1997. He said this is the best team he’s had since taking over.
He and the players have been following the power points all season. Wednesday’s game was their last game before the cutoff for the South Jersey Non-Public B seeding.
Power points are based off a team’s first 13 games before Oct. 22.
The Crusaders hope they can get the No. 2 seed in a bracket that features one of the state’s best teams, Gill St. Bernard’s (10-3-1). Heading into Tuesday, the Crusaders had 218 power points, sitting third behind St. Rose (10-5; 219 points).
Saioni feels his team is at a disadvantage every year because other schools in Non-Public B South have an easier time getting power points.
“That’s been our focus all season, how important it is to get power points,” he said, “because the NJSIAA, however they decide to do things, it happened in the last five years where they decided to take North Jersey teams and put them in the south. That’s not fair to our kids.
“I’m very pleased (with the team),” Siaoni added. “I told the guys they may be happy with the results, but I’m not going to stop pushing because we need to be better, because I know what we’re going to see in the playoffs.”
Wildwood Catholic 4 2—6
Buena Regional 0 1—1
Goals—Lindsay (2), Feria (2), Legler, Wallace WC. Knapp BR.
Goalies—Zampirri (2) WC. Osorio (12) BR.
Records—Wildwood Catholic 11-2, Buena 10-7.