NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Sophomore Sean Regan scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the waning moments of the second half, to give the Pioneers a 2-1 victory over Glen Ridge Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the NJSIAA Section 2, Group 1 state tournament at Lieder Field.
New Providence came out strong early on in the first half, dominating possession and outplaying Glen Ridge on both sides of the ball.
The persistency and pressure the Pioneers put on the Ridgers paid off when Regan received a pass from Zain Stedman, controlled it and buried it in the back of the net.
“I saw an opening in the middle and Zain (Stedman) get the ball,” said Regan. “He gave me a nice pass and I was able to take a good touch and take a shot on goal.”
The rest of the first half was more of the same for the Pioneers, although they weren’t able to capitalize on any other scoring chances.
With the score 1-0 at the half, Glen Ridge turned it around in the second 40 minutes.
After a few solid chances on net for the Ridgers, they were finally able to penetrate the Pioneer back four and equalize the game at 1-1. Glen Ridge senior Clark Barratta scored from the right side, about 10 yards out past New Providence goalie Michael Zamora, to tie the game in the 61st minute.
Glen Ridge dominated the game for the next 15 minutes, but thanks to a few big saves from Zamora, the game remained deadlocked.
However, thanks to a quality clear from the Pioneer defense, New Providence was able to make a run down the field, which subsequently led to the Pioneers' winning goal.
Regan received a cross that trickled through the legs of Glen Ridge defenders and slid the ball passed the oncoming goalie to give New Providence the lead with minutes remaining.
“I saw the goalkeeper coming out and the ball get through the defenders,” said Regan. “Then I took advantage of the opportunity and was able to score the goal.”
The Pioneer defense went into a shell in the last five minutes of play and prevented any legitimate chances for Glen Ridge to score.
“I think it kind of clicked in their head that this could be their (the seniors) last game ever,” said New Providence head coach Teddy Niedzielski when asked about how his team was able to pick it up in the last moments of the second half. “We really played well those last minutes and we were able to come away with a victory.”
With the victory, the Pioneers improve to 6-11-1 on the year and prolong their season at least one more game.
New Providence will take on No. 1 David Brearley later this week in Kenilworth.
“We’re not expected to win,” said Niedzielski. “But I think we could definitely give them a shot."