UNION, NJ – An overtime goal headed in by Robbie Viglione severed a 0-0 tie in the Union County Tournament Final on Friday night, as the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders claimed their 5th consecutive title.
Despite a scoreless regulation period, both teams were relentless on offense. Maximiliano Acosta danced his way through defenders, accounting for a majority of Elizabeth’s seven shots on net.
“Number nine (Acosta) is as good as anybody in the state as far as a forward,” Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Tom Breznitsky said. “He releases the ball and gets his shots off with pace.”
The Minutemen were held in check, however, by Raiders’ defenders Jordan Cimring, Julian Korduba, and the captain Jake Longo. Diego Pellejero recorded five saves for Elizabeth, denying the Raiders’ leading scorer Ari Rosenzweig for nearly 90 minutes.
Rosenzweig would play a major role in overtime, tallying the assist on the game’s only score. Nine minutes into the first overtime period, the senior chipped a high pass into the box and connected with a leaping Robbie Viglione, who used his head to redirect the ball through Pellejero’s hands.
Viglione, a junior, went from a substitution to a hero in the matter of a few minutes.
“It’s exhilarating, it’s a lot of pressure, lot of nerves when I first went out there, but after a little while I was in the right place at the right time. It was a perfect ball by Ari,” he said after the game. “It means a lot to get this W and not disappoint the fans or community.”
Thanks to Viglione, four-year starter Jake Longo secured his fourth straight Union County title as a Raider.
“I just started screaming, almost like a little girl. I was so excited,” Longo said. “I knew we had a winning tradition, but I didn’t think it would end like a fairy tale like this. Four for four is unbelievable.”
The victory marks the 19th Union County title for Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
“It never gets old winning a championship,” Breznitsky, who has coached the Raiders for 41 years, said. “Every year it’s for that team in that particular year. These guys deserved it.”
The No. 2 seed Raiders will enter the State Tournament at home on Tuesday, taking on No. 15 Millburn. They will look to rebound from last year’s upset in the final round.
“We have the same goals every year,” Breznitsky said in conclusion. “We want to win the conference, the county, and the state championship. It’s what we call the triple crown. We’ll take them as they come. It’s not easy.”