Tandler's strike highlights Demarest's win over Fair Lawn

Ryan Cohen scored a goal and set up another for NV/Demarest, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the Bergen County Tournament with a 7-2 win over Fair Lawn.

DEMAREST – It was one of those situations where everything fell into place just perfectly. Up from his defensive position to support the attack, Andrew Tandler saw the whole thing open up right in front of him.

“It was a long throw-in into the box and it was a long header back to me. It came off of one of their defenders back to me and I just jumped in the air and took a touch,” said Tandler, a senior. “It must have been about 30 yards out when I kicked it. It had a lot of dip on it and it went right into the top right.”

Tandler’s goal, the one that gave Demarest a two-goal lead with just over eight minutes to play in the first half of Thursday night’s Bergen County Tournament Round of 16 contest, was much more difficult than he made it sound. It was a volley, he met the ball with his laces right at the end of his aerial foray and gave Fair Lawn keeper Joshua Bells no chance to keep it out.

It was the standout goal in a game full of them as Demarest advanced to the Bergen County Tournament quarterfinals for the second straight season with a 7-2 victory over Fair Lawn. The Norsemen, seeded sixth, will take on No. 3 Ridgewood on Sunday night in the quarterfinal finale at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes.

“We have struggled with putting the ball in the net. We have had many opportunities, but we just end up not connecting as we should,” said Rob Romeo, who is in his fifth season as Demarest’s head coach. “We can advance the ball, we can pass through the channels and we can communicate as a team. We have been doing that throughout [the season], but it was nice tonight to actually put the ball in the net and get some of that confidence back.”

Kasper Piela was a handful in the middle of the field for Fair Lawn.

Fair Lawn won its way into the Round of 16 by beating Cresskill in the play-in round and with Kasper Piela in the engine room; the Cutters are dangerous and were so through a pretty even first 20 minutes of the game. With the game still scoreless in the 12th minute, Piela rolled one across the top of the box for Daniel Bermudez, whose sweeping first-timer was headed for the upper shelf before Demarest keeper Ryan Shkylar pushed it up onto and then over the crossbar.

Six minutes later, the momentum changed for good courtesy of Matt Marinich’s free kick from near the left touchline. The senior’s right-footed restart screamed across the face of the goal into the opposite corner to give Demarest the 1-0 lead with 22:40 left in the first half. And then Tandler doubled the advantage with his Kung Fu-style rocket 14 minutes later. Ryan Cohen was taken down in the box and Joe Monaco converted the PK to make it 3-0 before Andrew Dekhtyar pulled one back for Fair Lawn, which went into the intermission trailing 3-1 but still on the fringes.

That changed early in the second half when Andrew Dunne cut one back from the endline for Jordan Miller, who picked the lower right to make it 4-1 in the 44th minute. Cohen won a race down the channel for goal No. 5 with 28:30 left in the game to all but seal the win.

Joe Monaco scored the third goal for Demarest, which will play Ridgewood in the Bergen County Tournament quarterfinals on Sunday in Franklin Lakes.

“We had lost three in a row, we haven’t been getting on the score sheet much, but we put 7 [goals] in today and this could be the turning point in our season,” said Monaco, a junior. “All eight teams [left in the tournament] are good. It’s great competition, but I believe in us and I think we have a shot.”

Eddie Dunlop grabbed a consolation goal for Fair Lawn, but Demarest finished strong. Eitan Mayol put back the rebound of his own shot after a save by Bells to make it 6-2 and Mayol then closed out the scoring by converting a pretty back heel played in by David Beltran.

The win pushes Demarest back over .500 for the season at 5-4-1, a record forged by fire against a tough schedule which gets no lighter against Ridgewood in the Round of 8.

“It’s taken a great number of contributions across the board. I am fortunate to have a great coaching staff with me; we care about our athlete’s mental focus and physical shape. We go through a lot and we encourage them,” said Romeo. “This is a great group of boys in a phenomenal community and we are trying to make an impact.”