UNION, NJ - Scotch Plains believed they had a commanding 2-0 lead over the GL hockey team on Sunday night after the first quarter, but freshman Matt Darata had other ideas.
GL defeated Scotch Plains in the season opener on Sunday, November 25 by a score of 3-2. In a scrappy game, the Highlanders were able to stay focused despite the numerous scuffles to come back from an early 2-0 deficit.
After SPF’s Will White scored two quick goals, the Raiders led GL 2-0 going into first intermission. In need of momentum for GL, senior captain Carson Whalers stepped up, showcasing his elite speed on the ice by zooming past the Scotch Plains defenders to score a breakaway goal. Nine minutes after, it was the freshman who stepped up. Matt Darata capitalized on a Jack Norton assist, tying the game before the third period.
The third period was a defensive battle. Neither team was given an easy shot, and shots on goal were limited. However, with just under three minutes remaining in the game, Darata stepped up once more to give GL their first lead of the night.
The Highlanders would hold that lead for the rest of the game, defending a 6 on 5 to near perfection.
Not only did this win give GL its first win in a season opener in over three years, but it also showed how dedicated they are to each other and to winning. The Highlanders stuck with the bigger Raiders and were able to gain an advantage with their scrappy play. GL won possession of most 50-50 plays, were able to match SPF’s physicality, and capitalized on scoring opportunities, which is a huge improvement from some of their 2017 efforts.
GL will face Westfield on Monday, which is exciting for the players. “We have a chance to stick with them this year,” junior center Conor Pierce said. “If we keep the score close, we can observe their patterns which will really help throughout the rest of our season. But yes, we have a chance to give them some trouble.” The Highlanders will look to upset one of the best teams in the state, Westfield, on Wednesday at 8:45 p.m. at Warinanco.