HASBROUCK HEIGHTS -  Wallington’s Nicholas Zielonka’s goal with less than five minutes remaining in the game allowed the Panthers to tie Hasbrouck Heights 2-2 on Friday afternoon at Hitchcock Field in Hasbrouck Heights.  Heights had a 2-0 lead midway through the second period but could not hold the lead.

The Aviators scored first on a goal from Stjepan Lucic about 30 minutes into the first half, hitting the top right corner on a direct kick for the game’s first goal.  It was a huge momentum shift in the game, as Wallington had been on the offensive most of the first half.  

Bharadwaj Chirravuri was credited with 11 saves in the game, and prevented at least another half dozen scoring chances with his aggressive play in net, smothering balls way out of his net.

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“Bharadwaj kept us in the game in the first, as he always does,” “ said Hasbrouck Heights head coach Billy Thorne. “He was outstanding again today.”

The early part of the second half, saw Heights still on the defensive the majority of the time,  with short spurts of offense.  One of those spurts, about 20 minutes into the second half, saw the Aviators score their second goal.

Set up by a long throw-in from the left corner by senior Matt Morretto, a goalmouth scramble saw Wallington get called for a penalty, and their starting goalkeeper, Jakub Grotkowski, leave the game after momentarily being shaken up. Jacob Flores scored on a penalty kick, and Heights had a 2-0 lead.

Wallington, however, went back on the offensive, and less than 10 minutes later Damian Zutkowski scored on a penalty kick to cut the lead to 2-1  

Three times Chirravuri was able to keep the game tied, including one diving save that pushed the ball just wide of the net.

Heights had its chances as well, including one that went off the post, that would have given them their two-goal lead back again

With less than five minutes left, Zielonka was able to weave his way through a tired and sneak the ball past Chirravuri for the game-tying goal.

The teams battled through two ten-minute scoreless overtimes, which were delayed due to injuries and cramping more than a few times.  

Each team had a few scoring chances but were unable to cash in.  Chirravuri made a couple of diving plays to shut off scoring opportunities.  He also let several Panther shots go wide of the net, allowing the Aviators the ball, rather than risking a diving save that could result in a deflection out of bounds and continued Wallington possession.

“That was a physical game, we beat up, we had a lot of problems with kids cramping out there,” Thorne said afterwards. “It was a great game, it is just a shame we could not hold the lead.”

Hasbrouck Heights is now 6-3-1 overall, and 6-3-1 in the NJIC Meadowlands.  Wallington maintains its Meadowlands Division lead at 8-0-1, and is 9-2-1 overall.