MILLBURN, NJ - On paper, Wednesday afternoon's quarterfinal playoff game, pitting a four seed against a five, looked like it would be competitive. On the field, the game was anything but, as the Millburn boys soccer team blasted the visiting Edison Eagles, 7-0, in the North II Group 4 state sectional playoffs.
Millburn's offense continued rolling, as did its defense, having outscored Perth Amboy and Edison, 14-1, in the opening two rounds of the tournament.
"I've got a lot of seniors, and they're here to win," said Millburn head coach Jason Robinson. "At the end of this one, I think it just gets away from you, and you know that your season's over, and that was a little bit in the first game. The last couple are really in play so much."
The Millers scored five second half goals to blow open what was still a contest at the break. John Muller scored twice, while Nick Politan, Kirk Willens, Spencer Heller, Ben Flaum and Jared Darvin each tallied a goal. Millburn keeper, Marc Langendorf, made six saves in the game, but the Miller defense did not allow many great scoring opportunities.
"In the first half I didn't think we played so well, we had another week off, we played last Tuesday," Robinson said. "It was another eight days off, or whatever it was, so we're really not used to that."
A goal by Politan in the eighth minute, and then by Muller in the 25th, gave Millburn immediate control of the game. Less than three minutes into the second half, Heller fought his way into a scrum in front of the net, got a foot on the ball and deflected it off of a defender and into the net. With 31:49 left on the clock, Willens put Millburn up 4-0, settling a ball on the left wing and hooked it in off of the Edison keeper for a score.
The final three scores all came in the final 10 minutes of play. Muller scored with 9:17 left, putting back a rebounded shot, Flaum stole the ball and converted on the subsequent breakaway, and Darvin just cleaned up a loose ball in front of the net with under two minutes to play.
Defensively, it wasn't much different from what Robinson was expecting, or from what they had been doing all season long. Millburn has allowed just four regulation goals over its last 12 games, and has surrendered more than one in a game just twice this season.
"I hate to put to put too much pressure on those guys, but that's what they're supposed to do. It's exactly what I expect," Robinson said. "It might not be fair, but three of the four guys in the back are seniors, they played together last year and all this year, and they know our system. Rohan [Sood], and Adam [Altmark] and Jack [Goldberg] are very good, so it's hard to score."
Millburn improved to 16-3-1 with the win, while Edison fell to 12-4-2. The Millers will go on the road to face top seeded Scotch Plains at noon on Friday, in the sectional semifinals. Scotch Plains sports a 19-1-2 record, and have won nine consecutive games.
"I think the guys are excited," Robinson said of the game. "We were excited to try to play them last year and we never got the opportunity to. This year, I think it's their goal. ...It's a great barometer to see where you're at."