SUMMIT, NJ - The good news is that Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team goalkeeper James Ford had the ball in his hands after saving a spot kick in overtime. The bad news was that in the process of making the stop -- which was actually the rebound of the saved attempt -- Ford had rolled over the goal line with the ball in his mitts. So, even though his gloves firmly encapsulated the sphere, it was a goal for Governor Livingston, a tally that capped a gut punch of a 2-1 defeat to the Highlanders at Tatlock Park.
The Hilltoppers should never have been in the position to play one second beyond normal time, let alone seven minutes of overtime -- a period, like much like the match itself -- that they bossed. But, despite having more than a half-dozen gilded chances after taking a 1-nil lead, they failed to find the all-important second goal of the contest that would have sealed the deal.
Some of that is on the home side, but Governor Livingston (GL) goalkeeper Andre Perez Santalla had a big hand -- and foot -- in that dynamic as well, Perez Santalla, although beaten once in the first half, made a series of stops -- a couple of which were special -- to keep the Highlanders in it, and Josiah Crawford did the rest, equalizing for GL with just under 14 minutes left in normal time and then bundling home a rebound of his own saved penalty kick with three minutes remaining in OT.
The Maroon and White took the lead in the 15th minute of the match when senior captain Andres Chacon whipped a cross in from the right corner that sailed just over Perez Santalla's outstretched right hand and found an unmarked Delmar Argenal at the back post. His headed finish was clinical, and the Hilltoppers led 1-nil.
Summit owned much of the possession and the visitors created little, a few half-chances from Crawford being the exception. The trend continued well into the second half, with Perez Santalla making a handful of massive saves, including a back-to-back sequence that saw him dive to right to deflect a waist-high missile from junior Luc Curragh and then, a few seconds later, making a kick save on a screecher from ten yards out from Argenal. Given a lifeline, GL began to move forward a bit more and drew a foul just outside Summit's penalty area on the left hand side.
Crawford stepped up and -- while it wasn't a laser -- his direct free kick was placed perfectly in the Upper 90 top left corner. Ford appeared to get a hand on it, deflecting the shot off the bar. The ricochet came back off the bar and off Ford's body and dropped across the goal line.
The game leveled with just under 14 minutes to go and the result in the balance, the teams played at a more frenzied pace until the end of normal time.
Summit pressed hard for the win in overtime, and had the ball in the Highlanders half for the high majority of the period, but a long ball into the Hilltoppers penalty area resulted in a tangle of limbs and the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Crawford, whose spot kick was saved, only to see the ball pop up in the air. Crawford was first to the live rebound and got a toe on the ball. Ford actually gathered the ball in, but his momentum had carried him across the goal line and the Highlanders had a come-from-behind victory.
"We created chances, had plenty of opportunities and we have to find a way to finish at least one of them," said Summit Head Coach Ashley Sularz. "We allowed GL to hang around, but hats off to them, Their goalkeeper played great, but we have to learn to finish a team off once we get a lead."
Summit (1-1) stays home to take on a highly-regarded Seton Hall Prep side on September 9 at Tatlock Park. The match kicks off at 11 a.m.