WARREN, NJ – The Millburn boys soccer have done the unthinkable for the second year in a row. Faced with the task of playing the top seeds in North 2, Group 4 on the road, the Millers defeated No. 1 Watchung Hills, 2-1, on Friday to win the section and advance to the Group 4 semifinals.
“We haven’t repeated yet,” Millburn’s senior goalkeeper Marc Langendorff said. “It feels great. This team is completely different from last year. It was a total team effort this year. We still have two more important games to win, so we haven’t won anything yet.”
Unlike last year’s section final victory over Westfield, Millburn had to come from behind to beat Watchung Hills. In the 18th minute, defender Luis Goncalves put the Warriors on top when he headed in a long throw-in from Matt Lavin.
However, top-seeded Watchung Hills could not hold the lead. With only four minutes to play in the opening half, Millburn junior forward Matt Stine came from almost nowhere to score on an open net behind Warrior goalkeeper JP Gavin to tie the game.
Later, with about 25 minutes to play in regulation, Millers junior Vasir Matsur put Millburn on top when he converted on a loose ball in the box.
Down a goal, the Warriors pressed the Millburn backline. Langendorff, who finished with seven saves, stopped two late scoring chances to lead Millburn into the Group 4 tournament.
Both Millburn head coach Jason Robinson and Watchung Hills head coach Greg Leonow said the game came down to Langendorff’s strong play.
“Our whole team owes him a lot of thank yous,” Robinson said.
The Warrior loss ends one of the best single seasons in Watchung Hills Regional High School history, finishing 15-2-1.
Leonow said this years’ team is the best overall team the school has ever seen.
“I’m extremely proud,” he said. “They had the most wins, first all-out county championship and first conference championship in a new division with new teams in it. So they’ve done excellent and I’m very proud of them.
The victory gives Millburn the opportunity to defend the Group 4 title they won last year. First up will be a county rival, No. 15 West Orange. The Mountaineers defeated Bergen Tech to win their section on Friday night.
Langendorff said Millburn can’t go into the game thinking about repeating, because that can only hurt them.
“We know West Orange and how they play," he said. "We know they have great players. We know we’re going to have to be set with them. They’re very motivated right now. We have to go in and take care of business.”