OCEAN CITY -- It sounds terribly cliched, but when two geographical rivals such as Middle Township High School and Ocean City High School meet in any sport, you can throw the records out the proverbial window.

Under bright sunshine at the Tennessee Avenue Complex on Saturday morning, the two Cape May County schools fought out a spirited boys' soccer match.

It was physical and extremely even, so much so that the Panthers eked out a 1-0 victory in the last 15 seconds of the second overtime when Jacob Cowan was brought down for a penalty.

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The Panthers' Graham Deever, a senior, converted the spot kick to his left even though Red Raiders goalkeeper Ryan Heckler went in the right direction. Both teams were very verbal throughout the game, and the ball was passed crisply.

There certainly was a lot of athleticism and pace on display, but a lack of precision in the final third kept the match scoreless until the end.

Even though the Red Raiders' program isn't as strong as it was when the school regularly competed for state titles, any win over Ocean City can be seen as a benchmark.

Add in the fact that Middle Township now is 3-0 (Ocean City drops to 1-3) and there could be a real shift in power taking place in Cape May County-based soccer.

"This was probably one of the more evenly played matches we've been involved in for a long time," Middle Townhsip coach John Maher said.

"We had 10 direct kicks, and they (Ocean City) has 10 direct kicks. It was that kind of match-up."


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