EDISON, NJ – Composure was the key for Westfield in Friday’s boys soccer section quarterfinal. Despite having a goal wiped off the scoreboard, the Blue Devils found a way to beat No. 4 J.P. Stevens, 1-0, to advance in the state tournament.
Senior forward Jeremie Dedea scored on a header off a free kick in the 67th minute for the games only goal.
“In games like this it might come down to that [one goal],” Westfield head coach Eric Shaw said. “They fought for 80 minutes and didn’t give up. They lost their composure at times, but kudos to them for fighting for 80 minutes.”
Three days after trampling Columbia, 7-0, the Blue Devils were hard-pressed to find a goal. Despite dominating the game’s scoring chances, Westfield came up empty throughout the first half until the 25th minute.
Junior forward Michael Prosuk ripped a shot from the top of the box that caromed off the crossbar and appeared to cross the goal line, however the referee missed the play.
Westfield senior midfielder Zach Sheil, who was right on top of the play, said its difficult to overcome a goal that is disallowed.
“That’s the toughest thing because you work so hard for something and you earn it,” Sheil said. “Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, so you have to just keep fighting it. That’s the toughest thing to go through those types of moments but we were able to hang in long enough, get one and hold them off.”
The Blue Devils were able to hold their composure following the play. After halftime, they continued controlling play until the 67th minute when they drew a free kick from 30 yards out.
Senior Daniel Kuhn played the cross to the right side of the keeper where Dedea perfectly placed a header into the net.
“We’re determined to win it,” Shaw said. “Jeremie [Dedea] was determined to find a spot to win that ball. It was a great ball by Danny. It was hard and Jeremie got the other end of it.”
The victory pushed the Blue Devils into the section semifinals on Tuesday at No. 1 Watchung Hills. Even though Westfield goes in as the underdog, the team feels their experience playing in a tough conference gives them an edge.
“If we play our game, we can compete with them and definitely beat them, Sheil said. “They’re the top seed, but we could be right up there. We played in a tough conference and got a couple of losses. Its win or go home now.”