UNION, NJ – For the second time this year, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Westfield boys soccer teams went into double overtime to decide a game. In Friday’s Union County Tournament semifinal, the Raiders topped the Blue Devils, 2-1, to advance to next week’s county final.
Scotch Plains sophomore James Murphy scored on a 19-yard free kick to send the Raiders into a post game frenzy.
“I took it on my shoulders and did what I could with it,“ Murphy said. “I ended up alright.”
Murphy’s team-leading 18th goal came with some controversy, as he was tripped up on the edge of the 18-yard box by Westfield goalkeeper Koryn Kraemer.
Kraemer was ejected from the game, while Murphy was awarded the eventual game-winning free kick.
“You battle for that period of time and to find it just slip away with one strike of the ball is tough to take,” Westfield head coach Eric Shaw said. “A foul is a foul. I didn’t see where he was. He pointed out of the box. It gave us a second chance with a free kick instead of a [penalty kick] but he fouled him.”
The Blue Devils had the advantage in the first half when Mate Landeka struck on a failed Raider clearing attempt in the 37th minute. However, they did not play with the lead for long.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Scotch Plains-Fanwood's Christian Zazzali scored on a free kick off a deflection to tie the match.
Both sides battled in the second half and first overtime period before Murphy’s clincher in final extra session.
“If you watched the game, there was no question who was the better team,” Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Tom Breznitsky said. “We just kept plugging away and plugging away and playing our game.”
The Raiders, who won last year’s Union County Tournament, will face Elizabeth in the Union County Tournament Final on November 3 at Kean University.