BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ-  Governor Livingston senior Josiah Crawford continues to lead his team in offensive production and made his presence on the field known throughout the afternoon. He tallied a hat trick to lead the Highlanders over their conference opponent, the Cranford Cougars by a final score of 3-1 Tuesday afternoon in Berkeley Heights.

He now has a total of six goals scored on the 2017 season.

In the opening minutes, the Highlanders and Cougars traded scoring chances, but the game remained scoreless. The Highlanders continued building momentum and Crawford cashed in for the first goal of the game, giving his team the 1-0 lead.

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GL continued moving the ball around and controlling the pace of the game. Crawford kicked the ball right towards the top of the net for his second goal of the game.

Following the second goal, Cranford started to get better movement of the ball and passing. Despite some corner kicks, they weren’t quite finishing any chances to get back in the game, but would eventually break through.

On one set-up in the GL zone, senior Sam Clark cut the Highlanders lead down to 2-1 on his first goal of the season.

The Cougars continued to pick up the pace but the Highlanders held them going into halftime with a 2-1 lead.  

As the second half started, the pressure by Cranford continued to come at a rapid pace adding more close shots on goal.  But GL's defense cancelled out their scoring opportunities.

“I thought [the guys] did a good job today. They played well,” GL head coach Bruno Somma said. “Any time you have a two-goal lead, it’s the most dangerous lead in soccer because you take your foot off the gas pedal a little bit and that’s what happened.”

At times, Cranford came at GL with their speed and pressure, but couldn’t quite get the game-tying goal.

“We made sure to contain them, to make sure they don’t pass us,” Crawford said of his team’s defense. “Our defense had to lead them to the outside and not towards the middle. We kept on defending them and not allowing them to get through. It was well-done by the defense.”

Most of the second half also saw both Cranford and GL trying to set up the chances, but nothing was going. The Highlanders still stood on top with a 2-1 lead as clock went down.

“You have to finish the game and that’s what you’re still learning how to do that,” Somma added. “We’re going to improve, hopefully get better at finishing.”

Governor Livingston finished off the afternoon when Crawford secured the hat trick with a goal in the later portion of the game, making the score 3-1 and securing the win for the Highlanders.

“We work hard as a team and Coach [Somma] went over the back-four and organizing,” Crawford said. “I thought that we worked as a team until the very end and we’re happy to win.”

Despite coming up short on the road, Cranford thought they worked hard in the second half, although they couldn't convert.

“Once we were playing better defensively, I thought we controlled most of the game,” Cranford head coach Greg Campbell said. “We had our opportunities, but unfortunately didn’t get good enough opportunities to put in the net and [Governor Livingston] put their chances home.”

Cranford senior goaltender Andrew Rojo made 15 saves on 18 shots in the loss, saying his team’s constant battling in every game has him optimistic for future games in the season.

“I was proud of the guys for staying in there together,” Rojo said. “Unfortunately, the goals didn’t go in. We had our opportunities. [Andre Perez-Santalla] made some great saves in the air, but it shows we have a lot of strength and when we work together, we can do just about anything we want.”

For Governor Livingston, junior goaltender Andre Perez-Santalla made 11 saves on 12 shots in the win. He says the defensive style displayed by his teammates throughout the entire game was a major factor in securing the win.

“[My teammates] kept tight. I was talking a bit, but they kept their shape. They kept playing hard,” Perez-Santalla said. “They won the head-balls [and] kept contained a man a lot. They just didn’t allow anything to get past them. They played well.”

“We work hard as a team,” Crawford said. “Coach [Somma] went over the back-four and organizing. I thought that we worked hard as a team until the very end and we’re happy to win.”

The Governor Livingston Highlanders (3-1) will take on Elizabeth HS in a home game Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

The Cranford Cougars (3-2) will face off at home against Union HS Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m.