NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Despite a late threat from the Mountain Lakes offense in the waning moments of overtime, strong defensive play led by co-captain Yosef Shamovsky, as well as timely net-play from goalie Dillon Konzelmann ensured a draw, as New Providence was able to hold on and finish with a positive result.
Mountain Lakes was on the offense for the most part during the two 10 minute sessions, however it was the Pioneer defense that stood pat and prevented the Lakers from sending home the game winner.
“I think our team showed a whole lot of character today,” New Providence head coach Jon Panella said. “It’s not easy to battle out two 10 minute overtimes against a physical team, but we were able to persevere.”
Even though the Pioneers didn’t get the desired result, they were certainly happy with the tie given the circumstances, as they carry more momentum heading into their next few games and into the playoffs.
“All season we’ve had games where we needed to step up and prevent the other team from scoring,” Shamovsky said. “We’ve been able to come together as a defense and make sure the other team doesn’t get any quality chances.”
Missing five starters from the opening day lineup and dealing with other minor injuries, the Pioneers appeared to be at a major disadvantage as less experience players were thrusted into play, however they responded with great poise and composure as they kept New Providence in the game.
“Everyone’s been stepping up all season when people have been going down,” head coach Jon Panella said. “It happened in the G.L. game when Tyler Ward scored a big goal and today Dylan Pizzi played amazing at midfield, so I’m really happy the way everyone’s stepping up.”
Before overtime was a possibility, Shamovsky, who has been perfect from the penalty spot this season, was able to convert and give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead with minutes remaining in the first half.
“I try to stay as calm as possible before a penalty kick,” Shamovsky said. “I don’t over think it I just pick a corner and stick with the plan.”
An equalizer from the Lakers came not too far into the second half as a throw-in reached the center of the 18-yard box and found the head Mountain Lakes’ midfielder Ian Pitcoff, who floated it over Konzelmann’s head to tie the score.
Both teams had their fair share of chances in the remainder of the second half, however, overtime decided the fate of this closely contested game.
Before their quest for a sectional title kicks-off, the Pioneers (7-6-1) finish with two home games, as they take on conference rivals Johnson and Oratory on Thursday and Friday night. Thursday’s game against Johnson, which is Senior Night, is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., while the season finale against Oratory is to begin at 6 p.m.