BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ- The Summit High School Hilltoppers knew a task was on hand, when they went up against the Governor Livingston High School Highlanders led by senior Josiah Crawford, who leads his team with ten goals on the season. As the game started, they rose to the occasion when the big moments came for them.
Senior Delmer Argenal and senior Andres Chacon each tallied a goal as the fifth-seeded Hilltoppers held off the fourth-seeded Highlanders by a final score of 2-1 in the Union County Tournament Quarterfinals Saturday morning in Berkeley Heights.
The Hilltoppers and Highlanders traded rushes down the field, but nothing was heading near the back of the net and most of the chances on goal ended up over the net and out of bounds or to the side.
Summit broke the ice in the later stages of the first half. A shot on goal went off the top post of the net and the rebound was put in by senior Delmar Argenal, as his team-leading 15th goal gave his team the early 1-0 lead.
“Moving on, I like the competition and as a team, we’re a tight team and [with] good defense and coming together and gelling together. We were there for one another,” Argenal said.
The Highlanders couldn’t clear the ball following the kick that went off the post and get the shot out of danger before Argenal finished off the chance.
“When the ball came off the post, our kids stopped playing,” Governor Livingston head coach Bruno Somma said. “They just picked up the ball and put it in. Instead of sticking to our man, we stopped playing.”
Governor Livingston continued to battle for the game-tying goal early on, but they couldn’t quite finish on their chances. After a few free kicks and corner kicks from both sides, the ball continued to stay out of the net and the score remained the same.
Summit led Governor Livingston 1-0 at halftime.
The Highlanders continued to push for the game-tying goal as the second half started, receiving free kicks, but they couldn’t quite find the back of the net. They held Summit to no major chances themselves as the early parts of the second half went by, but one mistake in the crease would cost the Highlanders.
Following a crowd of players going for the ball in the Governor Livingston zone, the referee blew the whistle, indicating for a penalty kick. A foul occurred in the crease, setting up a chance for Andres Chacon to give his team a comfortable lead. He set up, went towards the ball and connected, beating Governor Livingston junior goaltender Andre Perez-Santalla to give his team a 2-0 lead.
“Ultimately, our play rests on keeping possession,” Summit head coach Ashely Sularz said. “If we keep position for long stretches, we have the ball and more opportunities to score. Our best defense is holding on to the ball and try to win it back as quick as possible.”
It was Chacon’s 11th goal of the season and he spoke of his ability to finish off a shot that would help his team.
“You have to choose a side and you need to keep your composure to finish [the penalty kick] and you’ve got to earn it,” Chacon said of the moment he took the penalty shot.
The Hilltoppers also notably held Highlanders senior Josiah Crawford in check, not allowing him to get any major chances on net.
Governor Livingston narrowly cut into the deficit as the second half went along, but Hilltoppers senior goaltender James Ford came up with huge saves for his team. At one point, he batted the ball in the air instead or trapping it, before getting rid of it.
He made nine saves on ten shots in the win for the Hilltoppers.
“In these types of moments, you need to have a lot of focus,” Ford said. “You need to really be on the ball and a little self-belief that you can get there. I did my job and I’m happy with the result.”
Governor Livingston got on the board in the final minutes, a goal from senior Connor King to get them on the board, but the Highlanders ran out of time and saw their run in the Union County Tournament come to an end.
Perez-Santalla made seven saves on nine shots for his team in the loss, but praised his teammates’ efforts.
“My team played with a lot of intensity that we showed throughout the whole season,” Perez-Santalla said. “I think playing good teams like Summit, Scotch Plains and playing Westfield in two weeks will get us ready for the states and hopefully bring home a sectional title.”
The Summit Hilltoppers (10-4) advance to the Union County Tournament Semifinals. They will face off against top-seeded Westfield HS on Saturday, October 21 at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, with the time TBD.
Their next regular season game will take place at home against Perth Amboy HS Tuesday afternoon at 4:15 p.m.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (5-5-1) remain home to take on Linden HS Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.