WARREN, NJ - Entering the last minute of the first round of the State Tournament, on Saturday, May 17, the game was tied 5-5. Either Watchung Hills or Montgomery’s season could be over after the next goal.
And that’s just what happened. With 45 seconds left, Ryan Cunningham received a pass and broke for Montgomery’s goalie.
A sense of urgency struck Cunningham, as the offense was struggling to put up points on the board.
Cunningham fired a laser in the back of the net and 37 seconds later, Montgomery’s season was over.
“We struggled through the game offensively. They [Montgomery] played a zone, which we have not done well against. In the first half, we were better but in the second half we stopped moving and they got us,” said Cunningham. “The last play of the game we ran a usual play but it broke up. Alec [Orazietti] was able to find me on the back side, I dodged and stuck the bottom left corner.”
The game, tied 5-5, was closer than the last game the Warriors played against Montgomery on Senior Day – where they finished the game with a 14-3 win.
“We were lucky to pull that one out,” he added.
Cunningham finished the game with a hat trick, while Zack Melillo, Frank Butrico, and Alec Orazietti added one goal. Angelo Fusco had the sole assist for the Warriors.
The defense was strong yet again, causing a lot of ground balls, which led to more possession time on offense.
“We gave offense plenty of opportunities, and although we made mistakes, we kept battling to get the win,” said Captain Matt Rozmerski.
Goalie Jack Ayre kept his winning streak intact, as he won his third straight game. He improved to 9-5 on the year.
“We knew we would have to pick up the slack on defense and I thought we did a great job on that side of the field. Our job was to get the ball to the offense and force transition goals whenever possible. Even though we let them back into the game late in the fourth quarter, we held together at the end and came up with a big state tournament win and lived to see another game,” said Ayre.
Watchung Hills will play their second game of the State Tournament Tuesday, May 20, at Westfield.