LIVINGSTON, NJ — Sophomore Daniel Cho and junior Franco Burga led the young Livingston High School boys soccer team into double overtime on Saturday against Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA), which ultimately defeated the Lancers 3-2 with only minutes left to play.
Cho tied the game at 1-1 late in the first half by taking a shot from about 20 yards out that found the upper corner of the net. The Lancers answered a second MKA goal with only three minutes left on the clock when Aria Navi served a corner kick to Burga, who connected with the ball and drilled a header into the back post.
After a scoreless first overtime, the Lancers had a shot that was blocked and came back out to MKA. With less than three minutes to go in the second overtime, junior Ryan Melnick lost a one-on-one struggle with the MKA man who ultimately scored the winning goal for his team.
“Ryan Melnick was the last man there and got beat on it, but I think Ryan has really done a nice job for us this year,” said Livingston head coach Roger Rubinetti. “He’s been one of our more steady players. He’s really worked hard, as has Brian Kelly, who leads the team with two goals.”
With only four seniors and a roster filled with mostly sophomores, Rubinetti described the Lancers as a “young, inexperienced team in a very tough conference that plays well for periods of time, but lacks consistency right now.”
“That’s one of our big weaknesses,” he said. “Keeping possession of the ball is another weakness that we did a much better job with today—connecting some passes and not rushing and misfiring on passes. We were able to move the ball around a little better than we have in the past and I think that helped us stay in the game.”
Rubinetti added that he knew the team would struggle in the beginning of the season, but said he is confident that the team will continue to improve and capitalize on more opportunities later this season.
In fact, he said the Lancers had better possession of the ball on Saturday, but that it comes down to goals and MKA ultimately outscored them 2-1.
After a day of rest, the Lancers will take on Verona on Monday. Stating that the Verona team is very similar to Livingston in that it is “on the young side and they don’t have many game-breakers,” Rubinetti said it is a very winnable game for the Lancers.
“We need to see what type of bounce-back effort we have and see if we can snap this winless streak,” he said. “To do that, we have to keep focused, eliminate the mistakes we’re making and capitalize if we’re given any opportunities.”
Heading into this week, the Lancers stand at 0-7 on the season and 0-4 in the Super Essex Conference. Following Monday’s game against Verona, Livingston will take on Seton Hall Prep, the No. 2 team in the state, at home on Friday.