MECCA - For John F. Kennedy coach Scott DePasquale, the score line was a little too close for comfort, but a win is a win.
After a dominating first half performance, the John F. Kennedy Eagles survived a second half charge by Maplewood to win 3-2 on the road Wednesday evening.
"It was big that we came off with this win," Kennedy coach Scott DePasquale said. "It was a little closer than I would have liked and than I thought. (Maplewood) came and played us tough, and I'm glad my boys came out on top."
The Rockets (5-2-2) came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, putting four shots on goal in the first 22 minutes of the half.
In the 62nd minute, Maplewood made the Eagles (4-4) sweat, when Tyler Rosenberger's 42-yard free kick went through goalkeeper Craig Maras' hands and onto the feet of Michael Smith. Smith didn't miss from point-blank range, and the Eagles found themselves in a tight one.
The Rockets couldn't find the equalizer after that, though, despite prodding Kennedy's defense for it and holding most of the possession in Kennedy's half of the field.
"We came out, and we played a lot more offense," Maplewood coach Rich Perkins said. "We still didn't get the goals, but we played a lot more offense. I do appreciate the way they played in the second half."
The second half was a complete reversal from the first half, in which Kennedy scored all three of its goals. Starting in the first minute, junior forward Eric Bofenkamp put his team in the lead, scoring from 10 yards out.
For Bofenkamp, the first goal was just the start of his day, as he recorded a hat trick in the first 40 minutes. After being unmarked in the 6-yard box for his second, the forward finished the hat trick in the 40th minute, slamming home a rebound from his own penalty kick, which was blocked by Maplewood goalkeeper Stephen Pop.
Although his goal-scoring was important for the team, perhaps his most important contribution came in holding the ball up top, especially in the second half.
Whenever the Eagles' defense found a way to alleviate the pressure, Bofenkamp managed to hold the ball long enough to let his defense reset and created a few chances for his teammates late in the match.
"(Maplewood) came out, and they wanted it real bad," Bofenkamp said. "We were on the back foot the whole time. On offense, I had nothing there, so I owe it to (my teammates) to go back and help because they were working their butts off to get the ball out."
The win puts Kennedy at .500, which is huge for the team morale, Bofenkamp said. After a difficult start to the season, the Eagles hope that it will spark a big run going forward.
"Our beginning was the toughest I've seen since I've been here," Bofenkamp said. "To get back to .500 is good, and I think that we don't plan on stopping now. We plan to keep going."