SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Tigers defeated the Princeton Tigers 4-3 to win the NJSIAA Group #3 State Championship Title. It is South Plainfield’s first ever soccer State Championship.
“This team never quits,” said South Plainfield head coach Anthony Perfilio. “We have been down before, and the team always comes back. We started our season here at Kean University, and it is fitting that we ended it here.”
South Plainfield struck first in the game when junior Nick Polizzano headed in a corner kick by teammate Jacob Villacres. The goal came with 32:30 left in the first half and put South Plainfield up 1-0. Polizzano had this to say about the goal:
After Polizzano’s goal, momentum in the game seemed to shift towards Princeton. The Princeton Tigers started to press South Plainfield, and after goals by Dwight Donis, and Chase Ealy appeared to be going into the half with a 2-1 lead. South Plainfield’s Italo Cardoso had other ideas.
Cardoso scored with just .21 left in the half to knot the game at 2-2. The Cardoso goal at the end of the first half seemed to change the momentum for the rest of the game. Cardoso had this to say about his goal:
South Plainfield came out in the second half like they were shot out of a cannon. The Tigers took the lead for good on a goal by Kevin Casteblanco.
South Plainfield was awarded a penalty kick on a handball after South Plainfield’s swarming offense had knocked a number of shots off Princeton goalie Owen Lindenfeider. Senior Jose Guardado’s penalty kick was stopped by Lindenfeider, but Casteblanco knocked the rebound past Lindenfeider to put South Plainfield up 3-2. Here is Casteblanco’s goal:
South Plainfield would dominant the rest of the game and seemed to get what appeared to be an insurance goal by striker Guardado as he banged a shot off both Lindenfeider and the post to put South Plainfield up 4-2. “I ripped it off my weak foot and it went in,” said Guardado. That goal, however, would be more than just an insurance goal as Princeton scored in the finals 30 seconds of the game to put the score at 4-3.
Princeton’s goal was a little bit too late, as the Tigers went on to celebrate their first ever State title. “I won two State soccer championships when in high school, but it is so much sweeter as a coach,” said Perfilio. “This team earned every bit of this title.”