LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston High School Boys Soccer Team (5-5-4) entered Saturday night’s Essex County semifinal match against #14 state ranked Montclair High School (10-2-2) with no one giving them a chance. The team gave themselves a chance as they battled until the final seconds of overtime before suffering the hard fought defeat.
With under a minute remaining in overtime, Montclair junior DeVaughn Foster headed in a well-executed Joseph Rodriguez corner kick to give Montclair the 2-1 semi-final victory.
The Lancers showed constant pressure throughout the match. Falling to Montclair in their two prior efforts, Head Coach Roger Rubinetti offered his team a new strategy.
“We came up with a different philosophy. We tried to pressure more and step up more and not let them attack us. We closed up some of the areas they’ve been excelling on us with and it worked.”
In the 15th minute, Rodriguez one-timed a cross inside the left post and gave Montclair 1-0 lead.
“As the game continued to progress we got some opportunities down at their (Montclair) end, more than we had in the first two games, and it gave our kids confidence”, added Rubinetti.
With 26 minutes remaining in the second half, Livingston senior captain, Ankush Rakhit's free kick was saved by keeper, Brian Harnett, but the 6’2” sophomore Jack Wasserman was there to head in the rebound and tie the game at 1-1.
“Once we got the tying goal, all of the worries that maybe these kids had and some of the fear factor of playing such a high caliber team vanished, and then it was just kids playing kids,” said Rubinetti. “And it was a battle.”
“They’ve beat us twice 4-1 and 3-0, no one thought we had a chance. I’m not satisfied with the loss, but I’m satisfied with the way the team played. We worked really hard, and we’re going to build off this heading into states”, said Wasserman.
The Lancers have qualified for the state tournament and wait to hear where they are seeded and where they will play.
Livingston will play against West Orange for a regular season game at West Orange High School on Monday at 7 p.m.