NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - In the highly-competitive Mountain Division of the Union County Boys Soccer Conference, it appears that parity is king.
"Everyone has just about beaten everyone else and I think that's a good thing," said New Providence head coach Craig Barclay. "Its good to be challenged in every game and so far both teams playing have had a chance to win."
On Monday afternoon, it was Dayton High's chance to emerge victorious as the visiting Bulldogs posted a 2-1 victory over the Pioneers at Lieder Field in New Providence.
Dayton, now 3-3 overall, received a quick goal in the second minute of the first half and another in the 65th minute to take a 2-0 lead. New Providence (2-2 overall) got within one when Devin Mulligan scored with under a minute remaining.
Both teams are now 2-2 and tied for third place in the UCC Mountain Division. Union (5-0-1 overall) leads the division with a 3-0 mark with Gov. Livingston behind at 2-1.
"All of our games have been close with our two losses coming by one goal and both wins being by two goals," said Barclay. "Union is the one unbeaten team and we'll be meeting them on Saturday."
Dayton scored its first goal when Hunter Gollin headed in a direct kick from Vincent Pulice just moments after the start of the game.
The game would stay 1-0 for the remainder of the first half and the first 25 minutes of the second half before Christian Mancini scored on a breakaway with 15 minutes remaining to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
The Pioneers finally got on the scoreboard when Mulligan, a senior midfielder, scored his second goal of the season.
"We had most of the possession of the game but just couldn't get deep into their end," said Barclay. "And when we finally scored it was with only about 40 seconds left."
Seemingly, whenever New Providence and Dayton meet on the pitch the two squads play close games. Monday marked the fourth time in the last five meetings the teams have played games decided by one goal with each team winning twice.
A year ago it was Dayton that prevailed over New Providence, 2-1 in double overtime, in the semifinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 state tournament.
"Its my first year here so I'm still getting caught up on all the rivalries and history that we have," said Barclay. "But Dayton has some good players and are a good opponent."
New Providence is scheduled to host to Oratory on Tuesday, weather permitting, and Middlesex on Thursday. The Pioneers will then travel to play at Union on Saturday at 11 a.m.
"We're not afraid to play anybody and love the challenge that each game presents," said Barclay. "We're giving it our best start."