SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD — Rallying for two goals after falling behind, Scotch Plains-Fanwood defeated Plainfield, 2-1, in possibly the team’s final home game of the season Monday.
With the score knotted at one and overtime ominously looming, the Raiders’ Brogan Quigley sent home a shot between the posts to give the Raiders’ the game-winning goal in the 71st minute. Standing on the right side outside the 18-box, Quigley received a pass from Jack Brady, weaved through multiple Plainfield defenders to get open, and lifted his strike above goalkeeper Anderson Lopez and perfectly into the upper left corner of the goal.
“I saw Jack touch it down, and I knew he was going to play it to me because I called for it. Then I knew right away that I was going to turn and shoot, and it just happened to go in,” Quigley said. “It felt great to score, but we definitely should’ve had more throughout the game and shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.”
After Plainfield had taken a 1-0 lead on Asa Johnson’s score with less than two minutes remaining the first half, the Raiders drew a free kick seconds later when Plainfield was issued a yellow card. The Raiders’ set piece entered the box and bounced around before finding Jack Brady’s foot, and Brady fired a rocket past keeper Lopez to equalize the score going into the half. Brady was assisted by Alex Levy.
“I think too many times like that, we’re a little bit lethargic — we don’t have that sense of urgency when balls like that set piece are played into the box,” said Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Tom Breznitsky. “Jack’s a big guy there, and hey, for once, the ball bounced for us in that type of a situation.”
Brady’s goal awoke Scotch Plains-Fanwood after a relatively slow start to the game. Coming out of halftime, the Raiders’ run of play was more crisp, with efficient passing, more applied pressure on Plainfield’s goal and tighter defense.
Coach Brez credits an address to the team as a primary reason for the elevated play: “What I thought changed was how we played after I read them a little bit of the ‘riot act’,” the coach said with a smile.
The Raiders struggled to create many scoring opportunities in the first half and allowed Plainfield to score on a less than optimal play. The Cardinals’ Johnson came springing down the field after beating multiple Raider defenders, causing goalkeeper Aaron Schack to vacate the net and attempt to stop Johnson. He did — but Johnson regained possession of the ball and scored in front of an empty net.
“We didn’t hustle enough [in the first half], and although our knocking the ball here, there, wherever was fine, we didn’t play with any intensity,” Breznitsky said. “We did a much better job of that in the second half, by far.”
Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s two-goal performance was only the second time the Raiders had scored multiple goal in a game since Oct. 7 against Dayton.
“In the past three games, we’ve only scored maybe two goals,” said Quigley. “It felt good to get two today.”
Monday’s game was the last regular season home game for the Raiders, and it would take a few miracles in order for the team to play at Wexler Field again in 2017. Entering next week’s state tournament as the 10th seed, Scotch Plains-Fanwood visits Watchung Hills in the first round. The Raiders will play only on the road throughout the tournament unless some of the 11-through-16 seeds pull off upsets against the top six teams in the bracket.
“A lot of things would have to turn for us to get another home game,” Breznitsky explained. “It’s a possibility, but it’s a very, very slim possibility.”