ROSELLE, N.J. – Despite losing its four-goal halftime advantage, Fabian Victoria’s two late goals gave Roselle Park an overtime victory over Roselle Catholic.
“Today was more a psychological battle,” Roselle Park’s head coach Patric Santos Pietro said. “Tactically, we finally sorted things out in the second half, and that definitely helped us out.”
Victoria’s 12th goal of the season was the difference maker as he pushed the Panthers to a 6-5 win on Tuesday afternoon.
“(Fabian) is great,” senior captain Camilo Gamboa said. “He is our goal scorer. He was the goal scorer last year. He is a great support to the team, a good forward, and it's great to have him on the team.”
Roselle Park’s offensive was strong in the first half as it had four different players score, including a tally from Gamboa.
“We had a fantastic first half,” Pietro said. “We scored some brilliant goals. One of the best halves maybe of the season.”
Lions attacker Antonio Altamirano put Roselle Catholic on the board late in the first half, marking his 50th career goal.
“The chances I was getting gave me more confidence to score more goals,” Altamirano said. “It is very important because by scoring goals we boost up the whole team. They actually want to play.”
Little did anyone know, Altamirano’s goal jump-started Roselle Catholic’s second half. Trailing 4-1, the Lions came out after halftime with a vengeance, scoring four unanswered goals.
“I told the boys don’t let the scoreboard reflect on how you play in the second half,” Roselle Catholic’s head coach Scot Simpson said. “You can make this a game if you want to or you can just let this game slip away from you. We are hungry for those wins. Antonio Altamirano went out and came up big for us today.”
Jeffrey Castro and Altamirano, who scored three more times in the second half, had all the scoring Roselle Catholic needed as they climbed on top 5-4 within a 10-minute time frame.
Roselle Park’s senior defensive back Christian Risso admits confidence was the cause of the Panthers’ slow second half start.
“We got really disoriented,” Risso said. “We just felt confident with a 4-1 lead we were going to win the game, but that came back to bite us, and then we were down 5-4.”
With the game in the balance, Victoria played hero when he settled a ball inside the penalty area and let one rip past Roselle Catholic goaltender Anthony Milano, sending the game to overtime.
“It was amazing,” Victoria said. “I had just so many chances and I couldn’t scored. I tied the game at the end. It just feels amazing.”
In overtime, Victoria didn’t take the foot off the gas, as he put himself in the right position again, in front of the Lions goaltender, where he let the ball go to the left side of the goal post, quickly turning around and running to his teammates, securing the victory.
“We were still able to get the win in overtime,” Pietro said. “This keeps us in the running, if we beat Roselle next Tuesday (Oct. 14) that should lock it up for us, and we will be champions in our division. We only have really won one division championship before. The dramatic ending to this game is really what saved our hopes of winning that championship, so it meant more than just a regular-season game.
The Panthers look to carry their momentum into the Union County Tournament on Thursday when they host Gov. Livingston in the preliminary round. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.