UNION, NJ – The Scotch Plains-Fanwood boys’ varsity soccer team are champions again. The No. 2 Raiders defeated No. 1 Elizabeth, 4-2, in the 2013 Union County Tournament on Sunday at Kean University.
SPF’s Brian Rubin and James Murphy each recorded a goal and an assist to lead the Raiders to their third straight county title.
“Tonight was something special,” Raider head coach Tom Breznitsky said. “They just came out with a tremendous amount of energy from the beginning. Thank goodness we got one, because they way we played in the first half, we certainly deserved one.”
Despite a dominating first half, where Scotch Plains-Fanwood controlled the pace and the offensive flow, both sides were held scoreless until the 36th minute. Deep in Elizabeth’s defensive zone, Rubin ripped a shot off the crossbar then the Minutemen goalkeeper before it trickled into the net.
“We were dominating in the beginning and getting a lot of chances,” Rubin said. “We just needed to capitalize on one of them. The ball kind of just hit me and went in the goal.”
Leading 1-0 after halftime, the Raiders exploded for two more goals in the opening 12 minutes to blow the game open.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Michael Walsh scored on a header off a free kick from Murphy to put the Raiders up 2-0. 10 minutes later, Rubin connected with Murphy on a cross for a quick goal and a 3-0 lead.
Christian Zazzali put the game out of reach in 67th minute when he finished a short rebound with a header, sending the Raider bench and crowd into a frenzy.
Elizabeth scored two late goals to prevent the shutout, however it was not enough to take away the Raiders third win of the season over Elizabeth.
“There’s an old adage that when you play a team three times, its tough to win, but it doesn’t say that you can’t win,” Breznitsky said.
Scotch Plains does not have long to celebrate the win. The No. 3 Raiders are back in action on Tuesday when they host No. 14 Perth Amboy in the opening round of the NJSIAA North 2, Group 4 state tournament. Kick-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Wexler Field.
“Today really sparked a movement in states. I think it will help us go far,” Walsh said. “[Tonight’s win] shows us personally that we’re a good team and anything is possible. Seeds don’t mean anything. That’s what today shows us.”