Staff Writer
GALLOWAY — Every team is looking for a fast start in its season opener, and the Absegami Braves couldn’t have started any faster than they did in their 2019 debut against Atlantic County Institute of Technology on Tuesday afternoon.
Junior Michael Reitzel scored just 26 seconds into the match, and the Absegami defense made that lone tally stand up in the Braves’ 1-0 victory over the RedHawks.
“Every practice we try to get a quick attack going and that showed during today’s game, one or two quick plays and we’re in. We tried to just keep attacking. Most teams will park the bus after getting a goal that quickly, but we were still trying to attack. It’s all about attacking for us,” said senior Kingsley Nomah, who assisted on Reitzel’s goal. “That’s all that matters, if you win that first game everything else starts to fall into place.”

Senior striker Kingsley Nomah takes a shot on goal during Absegami’s 1-0 win over ACIT. (Glory Days photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

Santino Giacomo had to make a couple of saves in the second half, but for the most part Absegami’s defense held ACIT without any real scoring threats, and on the other side Nikodem Rzothiewicz played well after allowing that first goal to keep the RedHawks in the game. The goal from Reitzel was a bit surprising because throughout much of his career he’s been a defender, but a few injuries have pressed him into action as a forward, and coach Mike Whalen said he may just be getting some more chances to push forward along with Nomah in coming games.
“This is my second year at the helm after taking over for Bill Rose, we’re trying different things and giving them different ideas. We had Michael up top a little bit during the preseason, but some injuries pushed him forward and it didn’t take him long to score. He’s starting to use his size a lot better. He used to play defense for us, but we had a lot of guys back there and in order for him to get on the field he had to embrace a different role, and he’s doing well with it,” Whalen said. “(An early goal) definitely changes your perspective on going forward, and just being a little safer with our chances. We’re looking at can we handle adversity. We knew it was going to be a little bit of a heated match with these kids growing up together, and we’re young in the midfield with a couple freshmen, so they are getting acclimated with the quickness of the game.”
The game featured a pair of brothers going at it, as Nomah was matched up against younger brother George, a junior at ACIT, for the first time in a varsity game.

George Nomah, a junior at ACIT, got the chance to go up against brother Kingsley when the RedHawks faced Absegami in the season opener. (Glory Days photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

“This is the first time we played on the same pitch against each other, so it was pretty fun,” Kingsley Nomah said. “He’s big on medical stuff, so he chose to go to ACIT. It was pretty challenging going up against him, you could see the whole game he was trying to one-up me.”
Absegami will have some tough games coming up against teams such as Middle Township, Pleasantville, Mainland Regional and Ocean City, so Whalen will get a look at how his young midfield stacks up against some of the top teams in the Cape-Atlantic League. Right now, the focus is on keeping everyone who is playing healthy, and getting back some players who suffered injuries during the offseason.
“We’re not a particularly deep team, so we’re looking to keep guys fit and healthy for the postseason. That was a problem we ran into last year, where we competed and won games toward the end of the regular season, but when it came to the postseason we were kind of banged up,” he said. “So, we’re trying to make sure we stay healthy and I think we’ll be alright. We have to make sure we’re putting the ball in the back of the net. With the quality of our opportunities today, we should have seen the ball go into the back of the net a few more times.”
What’s next: Absegami hosts Middle Township on Friday at 4 p.m. ACIT hosts St. Augustine Prep on Friday at 4 p.m.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays