CRANFORD - Liam Fitzpatrick thought he might not play this season for two reasons - 1. a potential season shutdown due to COVID-19, and 2. his injured quad.
Both of those concerns were to put rest as Fitzpatrick was able to make his season debut and score on Thursday to help power Cranford past Hillside 4-0.
"It was such a relief," said Fitzpatrick. "Running back I had a big smile on my face. Watching everyone play this whole time, I was wishing I could help the team, and thankfully I got to today."
Fitzpatrick's goal came in the 35th minute and gave Cranford a 2-0 lead when he headed a long throw-in by Dom Del Monico.
"A couple of the guys on the team have a pretty decent throw into the box, so I just ran up there when I noticed he was going long and got a head on it," said Fitzpatrick.
Cranford first goal came less than seven minutes in when Ryan Dooley shot far post and bent it around Hillside goalie Jason Jean Francois. The Cougars would add two more goals in the second-half by Pablo Levya and Matteo Beltran.
Gavin Avella started his first game of the year in net for Cranford and needed just one save to complete the shutout.
After losing two in a row, the Cougars (4-2-1) are now on a two-game winning streak and next face Johnson at home this Tuesday at 4 p.m before entering the Union County Tournament.
"We went through a little rough patch a few weeks ago, but I think we realized we needed to step up our game with counties coming, and the four goals in each of the past two games show we have," added Fitzpatrick.