HOLMDEL, N.J. — Raphael Araujo had a game for the ages and the New Jersey Copa FC captain’s fireworks may be enough to rocket his New Jersey Copa FC side into the National Premier Soccer League postseason.
Araujo achieved the most goals in the NPSL since at least 2014 with a six-goal barrage, including four in the second half as NJCFC fended off the third-place Buxmont Torch, 7-3, at Saint John Vianney High School Saturday.
Araujo scored twice in the first half to give NJCFC (6-1-2, 20 points) a 2-0 halftime lead and completed his first hat-trick in the 59th minute for a 4-1 advantage. When third-place Buxmont (4-3-2, 14) closed the deficit to 4-3 with 21 minutes remaining, Araujo unleashed his second hat-trick of the night with tallies in the 73rd, 88th and 90th minutes.
The six individual goals and seven team goals were NJCFC records. It is unclear if the performance is an individual league record. the NPSL record book was not immediately available.
Behind Araujo, who came into the day with three goals on the season before tripling that output, NJCFC maintained at least a tie atop the Northeast Conference Keystone Division with West Chester United Soccer Club (5-1-2, 17) which plays Sunday. NJCFC won its third in a row and fifth in six outings.
Ohio State’s Mike Prosuk also scored in the 47th minute to make it a 3-0 lead. NJCFC was playing without leading scorer Ryan Campbell (six goals in seven games). Gerald Cubero contributed two assists on Araujo’s third and fifth tallies. Modou Sowe, Kevin Veliz, Travis Ward and Eugene Heerschap collected one assists apiece.
Araujo, a former Rutgers-Newark All-American and NJCU player, was the indisputable selection for man of the match honors. The start of the game was delayed more than an hour by thunderstorms before a brilliant double rainbow appeared over the complex in a sign of what was to come.
“I’m just happy for this great game,” Araujo said. “I haven’t scored in a few games and as a forward I’ve been thinking about that a lot and I’ve been practicing very hard. My team has been pushing me and believing in me. I’m just glad I was able to provide a lot of goals for my team today. Not a lot of people can say they scored six goals in a game and I’m very proud. The playoffs are almost here; we need to keep playing hard and getting great results.”