BRIDGEWATER, NJ — An up-and-down season came to a frustrating end for Scotch Plains-Fanwood boys’ soccer Friday. Mired in a game with questionable officiating and high-running emotions, the No. 10 seeded Raiders fell to No. 2 Bridgewater-Raritan, 2-0, in the state sectional quarterfinals.
Bridgewater-Raritan (16-0-2) flexed its offensive force and scored twice to come away victorious. Oliver Trujillo put one between the posts in the 22nd minute on an assist from Nathan Han, then Han added a score of his own in minute number 47 to account for both of the Panthers’ scores.
While Scotch Plains-Fanwood (11-10) didn’t have a point on the scoreboard, the Raiders actually did find the back of the net once. Seven minutes into the the second half, Zidan Abdella one-timed a cross sent from Brogan Quigley which seemingly equalized the score at one. However, the goal was negated due to a questionable “over the line” call.
The Raiders had the goal taken away, and momentum was instantly shifted away from them when Bridgewater-Raritan score for the second time less than a minute later.
“The game was taken away from our boys by the two officials,” head coach Tom Breznitsky stated after the loss. “It’s one of the types of intangible things that we unfortunately have no control over.”
As time kept ticking away in the game and season, the Raiders’ frustration began to show in the form of yellow cards. Owen Murphy was issued two yellow cards during the final 20 minutes, and Ryan Widman also received a yellow after a collision in the 68th minute.
The Raiders committed six total fouls and were called offsides twice.
“I think the referee made some bad calls, to be honest,” said senior captain Brogan Quigley. “We just wanted it so bad. I commend the guys who were going hard and playing as hard as they could.”
Scotch Plains-Fanwood was shutout for the ninth time this season, but the team certainly had plenty of opportunities. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they trailed for a total of 62 minutes during the match.
Oliver Trujillo’s goal in the first half came on a beautiful display off ball movement — two quick passes spanning the entire perimeter of the six box — and put the Raiders behind from an early point.
“To start off, we were all pretty nervous. Our legs were heavy right at the beginning — our legs were weak and we didn’t get back fast enough,” Quigley said about Trujillo’s score. “We had so much adrenaline to start, and once we calmed down, we started playing.”
Once settled into the match, the Raiders had multiple good-look attempts squandered in the first half. Michael Ferrara took a shot from 10 yards out on the right side, but it was stopped by Panthers goalie Calum Erlenborn. Quigley also had a strike blocked by Erlenborn — his free kick after a Panther yellow card was on target, but hit right at the keeper.
Bridgewater-Raritan added its second goal of the match when Nathan Han — after being vocally encouraged by his bench to “shoot!” all afternoon long — finished a pass sent from Brandon Jimenez.
The loss ends Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s odd season. Defending 2016 sectional champions — they defeated Bridgewater to garner that title — the Raiders finished with an uncharacteristic record of 11-10. Despite its highest loss total of the decade, the team showed resiliency throughout and certainly had the potential to be the darkhorse of the state tournament.
“Kudos to the kids: They never stopped; They never [complained]; They never stopped hustling the whole game,” Coach Brez said of his team. “Everyone fought for everybody else, there was no bickering amongst the guys. I’m very proud to have coached this team, and they were one of the better teams to have coached.”