NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - It certainly was not the easiest way to win a high school soccer game and it was not in the New Providence Pioneer's game plan to score in extra time of the second half to bring the game into overtime, but they found a way to defeat the Summit Hilltoppers 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon in New Providence.
After the contest remained tied at 1-1 after one overtime of play the Pioneers struck for the game winning goal just 1:50 into the second overtime. The Pioneers were awarded a free kick just outside the Hilltoppers' box after a penalty was called. Tim Terrezza booted the ball into the top left slot of the goal before he and his teammates bombarded one another in celebration.
The Pioneers brought the game into overtime on a last minute goal from Lev Litichevsky. With under two minutes to play in the contest, the Pioneers were down 1-0 despite having a number of quality scoring chances. Their efforts finally paid off, and just in time, as Litichevsky found a loose ball in front of the Hilltoppers' goal off a direct kick that he was able to put into the back of the goal.
"The second half the kids came out and I think they have drawn from the experiences of the other overtime losses," Pioneers' Head Coach Teddy Niedzielski said. "We started to get a few more chances. It worked out today."
For the Hilltoppers, they seemed to have the game well in hand, at least for the first 78 minutes of so or play. Luke Shehata scored just a few minutes into the contest on a nice breakaway down the right side of the field. He faked out a few Pioneer defenders near midfield and was off to the races as he dribbled the ball towards the goal. He blasted a shot that beat Pioneer goaltender Doug Pastore to put his team up 1-0.
The score was still in the Hilltoppers' favor at halftime and they came out strong in the beginning of the second half, as well. Peter Laughlin had maybe the best chance for the Hilltoppers at the 30 minute mark. He was open for a shot just outside the Pioneers' box, but put the ball wide left of the opposition's goal.
The Pioneers then responded with a few quality scoring chances of their own before tying the game. Bijan Saniee found the ball directly in front of the Hilltoppers' goal. However, defenders forced him to shoot the ball just wide right of the net. Earlier in the half, Bobby Libera tried to find a seemingly open Saniee in front of the Hilltoppers' goal, but the play was broken up.
Shehata could have scored his second goal of the game for the Hilltoppers 1:30 into the first overtime, but his shot from the right side of the Hilltoppers' box sailed wide left. The Pioneer defense did a solid job during the rest of the two overtimes, just like they had done for most of the game.
"I talked to the kids to just have the tenacity to go win the balls in the air. I think in the second half we kind of beat them to the ball a little bit," Coach Niedzielski said.
The Pioneers' next game is at Union Catholic High School this Friday at 4 p.m. The Summit Hilltoppers will next face off against Oratory Prep School on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in Summit.