ROXBURY, NJ - After Hunter Kolmodin's game-tying set piece goal from 50-yards out found the back of the net late in Saturday's Morris County Tournament final, it appeared that another magical chapter was about to be written in the Montville boys soccer team's season.
But just under a minute later, Delbarton did exactly what one would expect the state's number one team to do- they responded.
Brendan McSorely got behind the Montville defense and found the back of the net in the 77th minute to put Delbarton on top en route to a 3-2 win over Montville at Roxbury High School.
The win gave Delbarton its third consecutive county title, and denied Montville of its first county championship in nine years. It also marked the first loss of the season for Montville after winning its first 16 games.
“You’re never safe against these guys," Montville coach Kevin Brown said of the late goal. "I knew my guys were tired, and I knew that’s what this game was going to come down to. Just a breakdown defensively, and an easy walk-in goal for them. That’s a breakdown on our part, and I give credit to McSorley, he scores big goals in big spots. That’s fantastic for him. We just have to be better defensively in the long run, and when you’re tired in games you just have to battle through.”
Montville certainly had more than its share of opportunities in this one. It held strong in the early minutes of the game, and scored the all-important first goal as Giovanni LoGrasso took advantage of some open space in the box and found the back of the net in the 20th minute.
It appeared to be on its way to going into halftime with the lead, but Delbarton took advantage of a corner kick opportunity as Christian Merritt's service was sent home by Maximus Cresti, tying it up at one.
Then, in the 57th minute, Delbarton's McSorely drew a foul in the box- much to the disagreement of the Montville faithful- and a penalty kick was awarded. Luke Geleta took advantage and scored on the kick, and Delbarton had its first lead.
Montville did not back down, however. Off a set piece from midfield, Hunter Kolmodin's shot was hit on target, and the Delbarton goalkeeper was unable to stop it, tying the game up at two with just under five minutes remaining, and it appeared all of the momentum was on its side.
While it was unable to find the late equalizer after McSorely's go-ahead goal, Montville had much to be proud of after taking the state's top team right down to the wire.
“It was great. We’ve played up to our competition all year," Brown said. "We weren’t scared. I told my guys that for the first time, we’re not the ones with the target on our back. Our fans were absolutely fantastic and we feed off of that all year. So they did what they had to do.”
Another positive in the game was the play of Montville keeper Max Metz, who turned aside six shots, including several good opportunities by Delbarton early in the second half to keep the game within reach.
“He's a really athletic kid. Wins balls in the air, he gets up high. He comes up big," Brown said of Metz. "He has a calm demeanor about him, so these types of games, we love having him back there because he kind of gives you nothing which scares you, but at the same time, nothing really fazes him. He’s been that way for the past two years and we’re looking forward to what he does in states.”
There is also still very much to play for, as Montville will officially learn of its state tournament seed on Tuesday, before it kicks off on October 26. It is believed that the Mustangs will be the top seed in North 1, Group 3, and will have home field throughout as it chases after a sectional title, as well as the program's first ever Group 3 overall state title.
Playing a team like Delbarton could be exactly the type of test that the team needed as it prepares for a high level of competition in the state tournament.
"It’s huge obviously," Brown said. "These guys (Delbarton) play a really good schedule. They battle every single game all season long, so they’re battle-tested and for us to hang with them the whole game, it’s a testament to what we’ve been doing. We’re the real deal. It’s great going forward, because we’re going to see guys that are good like that. We can hang with anybody.”
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