WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange varsity soccer team, in a phenomenal season comeback, prevailed in double overtime to defeat Montclair, 3-2, this afternoon at Montclair's Fortunato Field.
After a slow start to the season, the Mountaineers, the15th seed in their section, stunned third seed Montclair to advance to the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 finals. West Orange has now won six games in a row and seven of its last eight games.
West Orange scored 16 minutes into the game with a goal off a free kick. Andrew Bannout took the kick from midfield and Kamsi Udodi headed it into the goal to put the game at 1-0. The Mountaineers missed a goal when a ball came out of a crowded Montclair penalty area. The ball was struck by Udodi, but swerved and hit the right post.
Ten minutes later, Montclair's Joe Rodriguez took a free kick from less than 30 yards out. The ball swerved on the wet surface and goalkeeper Josh Feinblatt knocked it away, but Montclair's DeVaughn Foster touched in the rebound to tie the game up at 1-1. Freshman goalkeeper Diego Pedrido was then subbed in for Feinblatt. The game went to 1-1 at halftime.
Thirty-five seconds into the second half, West Orange's Garret Mulinge headed in a corner served by Michael Vargas to give West Orange the lead at 2-1. West Orange held onto the lead until there was eight and a half minutes left, when Montclair senior midfielder Jake Seamen scored in the bottom corner from 25 yards out, tying the score at 2-2.
This effort is due in no small part to senior Matthew Wilson, a Mountaineers forward, who was diagnosed with cancer last week after a biopsy determined a spot on his knee was malignant. Wilson is currently undergoing chemotherapy, followed by surgery and possibly another chemotherapy round. Though he has a long road before him, doctors are optimistic they caught the cancer in its early stages. In fact, Wilson was more upset that he was unable to play and to be present to root for his team.
Coach Doug Nevins and Wilson's teammates have rallied around their comrade and are fighting as much for Wilson as the championship. The team has been wearing practice shirts bearing Wilson's Number, 7, during pre-game warm-ups, and his teammates continue to keep him in their hearts and minds as they play.