CHATHAM, NJ - A stoppage in play because of lightning, an untimely leg cramp and a converted football player all contributed to a tough 2-1 overtime loss on Wednesday for the Chatham boys soccer team at Cougar Field.
Chatham was playing well and had a 1-0 lead courtesy of a goal by Ryan Chase when lightning was seen at Cougar Field and halted play with 29:15 left in the second half. After waiting nearly an hour to resume play Morristown (3-0) managed to tie the game late, just seconds after Chatham's top defender, Harrison Cote, had to leave the game with a leg cramp.
"The break killed us," Chatham coach Mark Maka said. "When we came back we were just trying to hold on. I thought the first 50 minutes of the match, we were the better team and creating some good things. After the break we came out and just spent too much time defending."
Chase had scored the first goal of the season for Chatham (0-2) four minutes into the second half after James Lind had made a run that turned into a Cougar corner kick. Gianmarco Mignogni lifted the corner kick in front of the goal, where the ball glanced off Cote's chest. A Morristown player attempted to clear the ball, but Chase knocked it into the far side of the net.
"We played well the whole game," Chase said. "We caught some unlucky breaks, but that's just how the game goes."
To top off the unfortunate turn of events, Morristown got both its goals from Eugene Hayes, a senior who was playing his first year of organized soccer after switching over from football.
"Football wasn't fun anymore," Hayes, a wide receiver on the gridiron, said. "This is the first time I've played organized soccer. It feels better to score in soccer because it's a lot harder to score a goal than a touchdown."
Hayes tied the game (see video below) with 4:41 left on his first varsity goal and then won it in sudden-death style when he scored with 6:02 showing in the overtime period.
The game-tying goal came immediately after Cote had to leave the game with a leg cramp.
"You hate to have that feeling when you step off the field right when it happens," Cote said. "It was upsetting to have this result. Morristown is a good team and it was a good fight between us. The first few games don't define who you are. The result was right there for us. We just have to execute better."
In addition to Cote's leg problem, Mignogni watched the late stages from the sideline with his leg being iced after he received a hard shot that earned the Morristown player a yellow card.
"They knocked him over and two guys put their cleats in his leg," Maka said. "It was clear they were going after him. They scored on two restarts and both times it was without our biggest guys, Cote and Gianmarco, on the field."
Eugene Hayes scores with 4:41 left in regulation for Morristown to tie the game at 1-1 and force overtime