CHATHAM, NJ - Whether it was the loss of one of its starters, Harrison Cote, or the play of its opponent, something just wasn't right with the Chatham boys soccer team on Thursday at Cougar Field.
Morristown, the team Chatham knocked off in the state sectional semifinals last fall, got goals from Chris Beeck and Chris Quiceno to hand the Cougars (3-1) their first loss of the season, 2-1.
Cote took an elbow to the mouth in Chatham's overtime victory against Roxbury on Tuesday. He required 60 stitches to close the cut inside his mouth. With Cote out, senior Graham Delaney switched from midfield to defense, which may have put a crimp in the Cougar offense.
"Cote suffered a broken lip, so we had to put Graham back there," senior striker Brian Graham said. "That left open a midfield spot and we had to adjust. Morristown is always a solid opponent. They're always going to be well organized. That's what we expected today."
After a scoreless first half, Morristown (3-2) struck first. A throw-in into the box was punched away by Chatham goalie Henry Stusnik, but Beeck collected the loose ball and knocked it into the lower left side of the net just two minutes after the break.
The Colonials followed with what turned out to be the decisive goal in the 56th minute. Chatham back Tristan LeMon sent a throw-in to Stusnick, but a hustling Quiceno managed to steal the ball and send it into an open net for a 2-0 lead.
"I didn't think I had as much time as I actually did," Stusnick said. "I thought he was right on top of me and I rushed it."
Graham Delaney talks about the game against Morristown and his move to the defense in video below
Chatham broke up the shutout bid by Morristown when LeMon scored off a free kick taken by Graham with just 25 seconds left in the game. Graham's restart was on target, forcing Colonial goalie Alan Maldonado to make the stop, but LeMon was there to head in the rebound for his first goal.
"Defensively, we did okay, but Morristown took away what we do well," Chatham coach Mark Maka said. "Our strength is to get into the space behind and they took that away from us. When that happens, we have to do more to break them down.
"Chris Wyss (defender) had a very good match for Morristown. We needed to be better on the ball to break them down. Guys just had a bad day. We just weren't connecting. The effort was there, I'm proud of them for that. Now we just need to be a little bit smarter."