RANDOLPH, NJ- It was an up and down season for the Randolph boys soccer team in 2019, one that saw them start strong at 4-1-1, before injuries to key players sent things a bit sideways. When all was said and done however, the Rams did finish with a winning record at 9-7-2.
Their final match was a home State Playoff game against Union City on Tuesday Oct. 29, in which the Rams battled through double OT and into “Penalty Kicks” to decide the game.
Things started well for Randolph, as they jumped out to an early lead off a strong rush on net from Josh Levy. Right Defenseman Ryan Gibb got the play started when he sent a long cross-field pass up to Levy on the far left side. Levy did the rest, attacking the net after a few touches and slipping the ball past the goalie for a 1-0 lead just 12 minutes in.
Union City got the equalizer with 14 minutes left in the half on a direct kick from about 35 yards out. The half ended 1-1, with the teams having played even and each registering 2 shots on net.
In the second half, as a thick fog slowly engulfed the field, Union City controlled the possession game, and had the better of the scoring chances. The Rams however, were getting stellar play in net from Andre Schiavone, who kept his team in the game with numerous second half saves, including a leaping “punch” save from point-blank range with just 7 minutes left in regulation.
In the final 6 minutes, the Rams suddenly took control, and had a few strong rushes of their own including a golden one-on-one chance from Chris Keaney with 4 minutes left that went just high over the crossbar. Gilli Krasner Cohen had a bull rush on net from the right corner that ended in a save and a collision with the goalie, while Akay Utku had a chance on a header in front that went just high.
After the final, frantic minutes ended, the Rams kept the heat up in the first OT. Levy, who had a strong night overall on offense, worked two golden chances for himself, only to be stymied at the last second by beautiful sliding saves on both opportunities.
But, in the second OT, momentum reversed again, and it was Schiavone who stepped up for Randolph once more. The Rams' goalie made two point-blank saves, one while rushing the ball and sliding to kick it away at the last second, and the other on a diving effort to keep the game tied. For the game, Schiavone was credited with making 12 saves.
When it was time for PK’s, Union City finally got the best of the Rams, outscoring them 4-2 to take victory and end the Rams season.