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Middletown, N.J. - Monday night’s clash between the Middletown South and Middletown North boys soccer teams exemplified the greatness and beauty of a rivalry game.
Deadlocked in a 1-1 tie with under a minute left to play, every player on the field was putting it all on the line, giving it everything they had to the last second of the game to help their school gain bragging rights over its rival.
The final 10 seconds of the game saw a crazy ending written into the next chapter of the Middletown South-Middletown North rivalry with the Eagles of Middletown South being the victors, beating rival Middletown North 2-1 on Danny Minze’s game-winning goal with 0.1 seconds left to play.
“I can’t describe how I’m feeling right now. There’s nothing like it,” Minze said after scoring his game-winning goal. “I thought the game was over when I took shot it. There wasn’t much time left. We hustled down. We got the corner off and you never know what can happen.”
The two rivals duked it out to a scoreless tie going into halftime, before both clubs found the back of the net in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Middletown South got on the board first in the 45th minute thanks to a mishap by the Middletown North defense.
A ball sent off the foot of Middletown South’s Matt Glynn to the center of the box ended up going off a Middletown North’s defender’s foot and into the net for an own goal, putting the Eagles up 1-0.
The Lions struck back quickly after their misfortune on the own goal with team-leading scorer Aiden Cardella finding the back of the net in the 48th minute.
As teammate Alex Perez almost lost control of the ball dribbling around the Middletown South zone, Cardella was able to receive a touch pass from Perez as he sprinted behind him into the box and then the junior bashed in his seventh goal of the season to tie it up at 1-1.
Both goalkeepers kept the game even from there on till the final seconds of the contest, as both Middletown North’s Alex Bogues and Middletown South’s Austin Carter stepped up in net for their respective teams.
Carter picked up two big stops in the second half to go along giving him five saves on the night, including a nice save off the Middletown North throw-in with under nine minutes to play to keep it knotted up at 1-1.
Bogues was sensational in net for the Lions, racking up a game-high 11 saves in a losing effort.
Following a diving stop with a little over 11 minutes left to play, Bogues helped deny the Middletown South offense on three straight chances with five minutes to go, which included batting away an Alex Sigua shot that was ticketed for the top corner of the net.
In the final 20 seconds of the game, as the Middletown South offense burst up the field on a fierce attack to get the game-winning score, Bogues stood up to the challenge with two monster saves by tipping away the first shot and then diving to kick Tyler Jerome’s shot out of play.
“I live for these moments,” Bogues said. “I just try to do my best to keep my team in it. It was a great game. Both team fought hard.”
It looked like Bogues’ double-save would send the game to overtime, but the Eagles had other ideas and rallied quickly to get a corner kick off before the end of regulation.
Sigua smacked the corner kick into the box with under 10 seconds to play where Bogues hit the ball back out.
The only problem for Bogues though was that the ball found the right foot of Minze, who rocketed in a goal he says he will always remember into the back of the net for the game-winner to send the Eagles to their fifth win of the season.
“It was nice to see one of our captains make a huge play in a crucial moment with basically no time left in the game,” said Middletown South boys soccer coach Rob Grella. “To do that under all that pressure speaks a lot about what kind of player Danny Minze is. It’s a great win for us.”
Minze now has three goals on the season.
Middletown South improves to 5-3-1 on the season, while Middletown North drops to 6-3.
The Eagles and Lions will both be in action on Wednesday.
Middletown South will look to win three-straight games for the first time this season when they host Manalapan. Middletown North will try to snap its two-game losing streak when they host Red Bank Regional.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports