NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ- The New Providence High School Pioneers boys varsity soccer team honored their 2017 seniors before taking to the field Thursday evening.
Tyler Bradley, Matt Byrnes, Joe Crisafi, Jeremy DeMarco, Matt Farrell, Chris Kang, Jacob Kogan, Dillon Konzelmann, Tyler Lawton, Shane Mahlstadt, Andrew Paniauga, Dylan Pizzi, Oliver Smith, Aditya Tigadi, Billy Vignali and Sean Yu were all honored in a pregame ceremony for their years of hard work and dedication to the program.
“It’s been great watching them develop over the last four years,” New Providence head coach Jon Panella said. “They’re a great group of kids, they get along. The team has done so well this year because we have great team chemistry and that starts with our seniors.”
Once it was over, the Pioneers took to the field.
With a sharp attack on offense, they scored four of their goals in the second half, getting two goals each from Crisafi and junior James Miller as they defeated the Roselle-Abraham Clark High School Rams by a final score of 5-1 in New Providence.
One section of the bleachers was packed with students, as they cheered the Pioneers throughout the entire game. The players know how special it is to be a part of the action on a special night.
“It means a lot to be one of the captains on the team this year,” Mahlstadt said. “We got four great captains and Coach [Panella] picking us really meant a lot. It’s great to lead a team that’s this close and that works this hard.”
From the start, it was all New Providence, as they set up chance after chance in the first portion of the first half, but nothing was going in. As the first half went along, the Pioneers finally broke through on an offensive chance.
Miller cashed in a shot at the 20:43-mark of the first half to give his team the 1-0 lead.
New Providence continued to pressure and attempt to add more goals on the scoreboard, but despite the efforts, nothing else was reaching the back of the net. It featured shots off the post, chances going wide and getting cleared out of trouble.
New Providence led Roselle by a score of 1-0 at halftime, but the sequence of what was to come in the next 15 minutes is what made the night great for the seniors and the people in attendance.
Miller cashed in for his second goal of the game at the 9:56-mark of the second half to give his team a 2-0 lead. He now has eight goals on the season and says everything starts with the seniors.
“We have some of the best seniors,” Miller said. “It was great to honor them tonight and we just sort of a great team chemistry on this team. It was nice to be able to contribute to a nice win like this.”
The Pioneers continued to give themselves more chances to score. Off a corner kick and a major scramble inside the area of the net, Crisafi batted home the ball to give his team a 3-0 lead at the 12:32-mark of the second half.
The Rams couldn’t get anything major set up, showing the dominance of the New Providence defense as the game went along.
One major scoring opportunity the Pioneers connected on added to another one and they kept going in for scores.
“Everything about this game [from] the atmosphere, the fans and the goals, everything came tonight,” Konzelmann said. “It was a great experience, a great environment and we got out of here with a win. It’s great momentum going into the state tournament.”
Crisafi struck again at the 24:23-mark of the second half to give his team a 4-0 lead. He now has four goals on the season.
“It was awesome, especially since it was Senior Night, to score two goals in front of a big crowd,” Crisafi said. “As a team, scoring five goals going into the state tournament was huge. This win was big.”
Roselle ended the shutout bid with a goal from junior Jaheem Hayles at the 26:05-mark of the second half, cutting the lead to 4-1.
Junior Devin Mulligan finished off the scoring with his fifth goal of the season at the 35:24-mark of the second half. The parents and students continued cheering on the team until the final minutes on the clock ran out, closing out another victory for the Pioneers.
“Our speed of play was good,” Panella said. “[Roselle] plays five in the back, so they’re tough to break down. Sometimes, it takes time to get the ball on target. We knew it was only a matter of time before we broke them down and got more goals.”
The New Providence Pioneers (13-4) head out on the road to play at Summit HS tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
The Roselle-Abraham Clark Rams (6-9) head back home to take on Union Catholic HS tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 p.m.