OC Soccer

Ocean City players hoist the championship trophy. Ocean City hosted Timber Creek for the boys South Jersey Group III soccer championship. Ocean City won 2-0. Friday Nov 15, 2013. (Dale Gerhard/Press of Atlantic City)

Dale Gerhard

A six-win effort in 2012 marked the end of an era for coach Aaron Bogushefsky and Ocean City's boys soccer team.

The sophomores and juniors of last year's squad were now juniors and seniors, and Bogushefsky said that one year made all the difference for his team.

"Just the leadership abilities and having the know-how of the game," Bogushefsky, who completed his fifth year as head coach, said on Wednesday. "Since we had that down year the school gave us new uniforms for this season.

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"So with these new uniforms I wanted to start a new era where we are going to get back to the way Ocean City soccer used to be."

Bogushefsky said that change was a shock to tradition. Even when he was a player in high school, he said that one of the things he thought about was the players who wore his jersey before him.

To go along with the new threads, Bogushefsky put three goals in place for his team: make the South Jersey Coaches Tournament, win the Cape-Atlantic League and make it to the state tournament.

The Red Raiders, ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, did not win the CAL, but they achieved two of the three goals, including the biggest. They played two games in the coaches tournament, including a 3-0 loss to Timber Creek which they later avenged in a 2-0 win in the South Jersey Group III finals.

Those accomplishments earned Ocean City a lot of respect within the CAL, South Jersey and with the alumni who had won state championships, Bogushefsky said.

"They took that to heart and they really ran with it," Bogushefsky said. "They took us further than I could have imagined, and to win South Jersey in the way that we did, it was probably the best moment of my coaching career."

Their season ended in the final seconds of the first overtime period against Allentown on Tuesday when Kevin Prinich scored to give Allentown a 2-1 win in a state semifinal. Raiders senior Zack Sakena said that after the ball went in, he turned to his teammates and congratulated them on a great season.

"I felt we had a great season, and I wouldn't change anything," Sakena said. "I've been playing with these guys since I was 10 years old.

"Growing up, when we played together we talked about playing high school together and doing all these great things. Come senior year we won the South Jersey group championship and made it to the state semifinal. It's just a surreal experience."

With the Red Raiders' first South Jersey Group III championship since 2007, this team with its new uniforms will be those players that future kids will think about when they wear the same numbers.

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