SUMMIT, NJ - An ascendent season for the Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team came to close by virtue of a 4-0 defeat to South Plainfield in the NJSIAA tournament sectional semifinals.
Two first-half goals from the Tigers' Jose Guardado put the Hilltoppers in a deep hole, and any real hope of a comeback vanished when South Plainfield scored less than three minutes into the second half.
The opening 20 minutes of the match was relatively even, however South Plainfield was winning the majority of the 50-50 balls. The match turning point came in the next three minutes when, in the 22nd minute, Summit goalkeeper Alex Dadourian made two big stops -- one at point-blank range -- only to be beaten one minute later by Guardado.
One minute after falling behind, Summit's Darryl Martin beat his defender to the end line, and his subsequent cross was hammered off the cross bar by Jafeth Reyes. Martin, himself, would hit the left post later in the half, although it appeared the linesman's flag had been raised for offsides.
After Reyes near-miss, South Plainfield began to assert a greater level of control and, in the 31st minute, Guardado struck again. Down 2-0 at the half, Summit Head Coach Chris Yager told his team to up their energy and tempo, be more assertive, and the goals will come.
Just three minutes into the second 40 minutes, the goal that came was scored by the Tigers. South Plainfield added a fourth later in the half and, while Summit played hard and pressed forward, they could not put one past Tigers goalkeeper Kyle Dennis.
Despite the loss, the season was a marked step up for the Summit Varsity, as acknowledged by Yager after the match. "We started the season a bit slow, but then we found our rhythm," he said. "We played five of the top-ranked teams in the state, and won the majority of those matches. We return 17 kids from this team, so our expectations next year will be very high."
Summit finished its season with a record of 13-6-3.