NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The members of the Livingston boys soccer team are heading into the state tournament with three consecutive wins under their belt, including a 5-0 victory over West Essex on Thursday in North Caldwell.
“Now we’ve got a little bit more time on the ball, we’re moving it a lot better,” said Livingston head coach Roger Rubinetti. “These three [wins] have helped as far as our chemistry goes.”
The game’s decisive goal came midway through the first half when junior midfielder Kyle Loventhal scored for a 1-0 Lancers lead off of a corner.
“It was a corner crossed in,” said Loventhal. “The ball bounced up and I screamed for Abe [Rimatzki] to head the ball. He headed it, it hit the keeper, it bounced in my possession, and I saw a spot in the corner and I took it.”
The Knights were attempting to fight back in the second half when the second-biggest play of the game occurred. A penalty kick just four minutes into the half was brilliantly saved by goaltender Elijah Elster, who finished the contest with an unofficial eight saves on the afternoon.
“[Elster] made a big save on the penalty kick,” said Rubinetti. “He’s done that all year for us. He’s a great shot blocker, and that was a huge moment for us.”
Shortly after Elster’s save, the Lancers struck again with another goal for insurance. Zachary Greenblatt scored off of a rebound to make it 2-0 and effectively end the game. Greenblatt has been red-hot of late, with four goals in the team’s last three games.
“[Greenblatt] has the best shot on our team,” said Rubinetti. “I tell him all the time…when he gets it at speed, he gets it on goal 90 percent of the time.”
The floodgates opened for Livingston in the second half following the Elster save. The Lancers finished the half with four goals coming from Harrison Berkley, Alesandro Cocuzza and Holden Miller.
“We said we wanted to go at them a little bit more, use our speed a little bit, get closer to one another, push some balls through and find some space,” said Rubinetti.
The scoring output for Livingston was the highest the squad has had all season.
“They’re listening to what we’re preaching,” said Rubinetti. “And this is the right time as states come, so we’ll see.”
The Lancers now set their focus on the state tournament, where they will take on Mount Olive on Tuesday.
“The hardest part is now trying to get past Mount Olive, but it’s nice to see they’re trying to connect, and they’re doing some things we’ve been trying to work on all season,” said Rubinetti.