SUMMIT, NJ - Playing on a narrow, undersized pitch in a 'sandwich' match that was squashed in between two NJSIAA North 2, Group 3 tilts, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team was the last team standing after a nutty seven-goal second half that saw the Hilltoppers come from behind to take the lead, get pegged back, but finally go on to win at Linden, 4-3.
While the timing of the match -- rescheduled from October 24 -- and the surface it was played on -- ideally suited for middle schoolers, which effectively neutered Summit's ability to space the pitch and play with any pace -- are fair game for scrutiny, the Maroon and White's commitment to stick with it until the final whistle is not. Trailing twice over the course of the final 40 minutes, the visitors took the lead 3-2 only to see Linden equalize before Summit snatched victory courtesy of a goal from senior Edwin Navas.
After a rather jarring opening 40 minutes -- that took turns vacillating between hopeful balls lumped forward and ping pong play in seemingly phone booth-like close quarters -- ended scoreless, all soccer heck broke loose after the break.
Junior Luc Curragh and seniors Delmer Argeñal, Liam Galligan, and Navas scored for the Hilltoppers, while Brian Neves, Alex Tarnawski, and Robins Etienne found the back of the net for the Tigers.
Summit's James Ford and Preston Coke-Corkern combined to make three saves, with Linden's Gabriel Sousa credited with nine stops.
Fourth-seeded Summit, 14-6 on the season, now enters round two of 'States, playing a 'rubber match' versus familiar foe and five-seed Cranford November 3. Each team has beaten the other 2-1 on their opponents' home turf this past regular season. The quarterfinal North 2, Group 3 encounter at Tatlock Park kicks off at 2 p.m.