CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham boys soccer team hasn't won a game yet this young season, but it will likely look back on the 1-0 loss to Delbarton in front of a supportive crowd at Cougar Field on Friday as a turning point in the season.
"This is our low point in my mind," Henry Stusnick, Chatham's senior goalie, said. "We played one of the best teams in the state and took them to the end. They were sharp in the final third and we weren't. The cohesion from our back four is just going to get better. Look at the last two teams that won the state title in our group and those teams were all juniors."
Delbarton (5-0) ranked No. 1 in the state by NJ.com, snapped a two-game losing streak to Chatham by scoring in the 26th minute. Bobby Frabricant fired a shot that was headed toward the far post, but Stusnick dove to deflect the ball away. Kian Alberto came in from the left wing to knock in the rebound.
"I knew where Bobby (Fabricant) was going with his shot," Stusnick said. "I couldn't focus on getting it wide, I had to just hit it away because he hit it really well.
"We definitely put up a fight. We went down a goal and we continued to go after them. We didn't put our heads down for a second. The last four minutes we could have tied it."
Chatham (0-3) has yet to score a goal this season. But it was at full strength for the first time Friday with the return of senior co-captains Stusnick and Tristan LeMon to the starting lineup.
Stusnick finished with eight saves and central defender LeMon helped the offense with his long throw-ins and his ability to get his head on the ball on restarts.
"I'm really proud of my guys," Chatham coach Mark Maka said. "It was a a really hard-fought match. They stepped up to the challenge. I'm really proud of our progress over the last week.
"You look at guys like Brian Guimond who had a fabulous match today, a sophomore, and another sophomore, Harrison Shi, on the left side. Those guys really stepped up as well as everyone else. Evan Gavalakis and Steve Florez had really good games for us. There are a number guys figuring out who they are."
Considering that Delbarton is a high-scoring team, which has yet to allow a goal in five games, there were a lot of positives to take out of the game.
"Delbarton has scored four or five goals and game and they didn't have many huge chances today," Maka said. "Defensively, we were really well organized for a good portion of the game. That's a really good team. I'm really proud of my guys today.
"The goals will come for us. I'm not concerned. We're focused on getting better every day and the goals will come from there."
Harrison Cote sends this restart on net and Delbarton goalie Santiago Robertson-Lavalle manages to grab it out of the air
Steven Florez sends a restart to the back post and Tristan LeMon gets his head on it for Chatham