MENDHAM, NJ - Led by Matt Gallo’s two-goal performance, the Mendham boys soccer team completed the regular-season sweep of Chatham, with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.
“I just got myself in the right places at the right time,” Gallo said. “Both of my goals were headers where I got near post and just flicked them on.”
Coming off of an overtime loss to Randolph and unable to practice on Monday due to state regulations, the Minutemen came out flat and Chatham took full advantage. The Cougars wasted no time, scoring the game’s first goal in under a minute when Miles Michell found Jared Wood for the quick score.
“We started off kind of flat and we weren’t mentally prepared,” Gallo said. “But after that, we realized that we dug ourselves a hole so we just kept pushing forward and attacking and hoped for the best.”
Gallo’s first goal was set up when Teddy Yerdon broke down the sideline and forced a corner kick. Leonardo Canino launched the corner towards the near post where Gallo settled himself and redirected the ball with a header into the back of the net to tie the game.
“It was a disappointing effort by my team in the first half,” Mendham’s head coach Russ Raffay said. “I was disheartened by the effort, but they responded and got the win.”
In the second half, Mendham continued to press the Cougars, setting up a throw-in from deep in Chatham’s territory. Gavin Coutts hurled the ball in toward the same spot that Gallo settled into for his first goal, and repeated the action to give Mendham the lead.
Nearing the end of regulation, both teams shifted gears and attacked even harder. Coutts was setting up for another throw-in when Sam Button dashed to that same near post and headed it into the far corner of the net.
Chatham managed to cut the deficit to one with just minutes left in regulation when David Gill laced a shot from the top of the box and past Mendham’s keeper Colin Hastings. The Cougars made one final push with under a minute remaining but the long shot hit the crossbar and the game ended.
“They’re a scary team and I let my kids know this would be a tough game,” Raffay said. “We survived. That’s the best way I can put it, we survived.”
Mendham will play in Morristown and Chatham will host Roxbury on Thursday at 4 p.m.