BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Playing on a furry natural grass surface that some may argue is more suitable for livestock than live high school Varsity tournament soccer -- a pitch that was made even slower by overnight and early-morning misty precipitation -- the Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team got a first-half goal from Delmer Argeñal and a second-half PK from captain Andres Chacon to win at Governor Livingston (GL), 2-1, and advance to the semifinal round of the Union County Tournament.
There, on October 21, the fifth-seeded Maroon and White will take on top-seeded Westfield at AL Johnson High School in Clark.
Both the Hilltoppers and he Highlanders started the match cautiously, not surprising given the match's just-a-bit-too-early 10 a.m. kick-off. Summit began to adjust to the playing conditions and began to move the ball around a bit more effectively 15 minutes or so into the encounter, and the chances began to flow.
First a Javier Del Cid cross from the right corner actually sailed over the head of Governor Livingston 'Keeper Andre Perez Santalla and hit the left goalpost but deflected away harmlessly. Del Cid fed junior Luc Curragh at the right near-post a few minutes later, and his first-time shot clunked off the post and went wide.
It looked like it was just a matter of time before Summit would break through and get the all-important first goal and, voila!, it was.
A cross from the right side found the forehead of Argeñal, and his thumping header bounced straight off the bar and back at him. Sensing that, 'if at first you don't succeed, Argeñal just tried again, this time finding the back of the net with his second header in about five seconds.
Up 1-nil, the Hilltoppers had a solid chance about a minute after Argeñal's goal and it feel to Argeñal himself. Played in on the right side of the area his first touch took him a bit wider than he ideally may have liked and his lash was blunted by Perez Santalla.
Throughout the remainder of the first half and the majority of the second 40 minutes, Summit seemed secure -- or at least as secure as a team can be with but a one-goal margin. A minute after Curragh, with a half-step on his defender, saw his in-close shot saved by Perez Santalla, Edwin Navas was chopped down in the GL penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Chacon who slotted home in the lower right corner, and the Hilltoppers led, 2-nil.
All throughout the match, it looked as if the only way the Highlanders would score would be from a set-piece. While they had a few dangerous crosses that were capably collected by Summit's James Ford between the sticks, on the run of play the home side was creating little more than their goal total on the day -- meaning, not that much.
But on free kicks and corners therein danger lay waiting and, sure enough, with just minutes to go, a free kick sailed into the Hilltopper box and a GL header found the right post, the carom subsequently falling to Connor King who rolled it past Ford from close range. It was a jolt to the 07901ers but, with only a minute remaining on the referee's watch, the visitors were able close out the match.
Before Summit can tangle with Westfield for the second time this season, they have matches at home October 17 versus Perth Amboy and at highly-rated Elizabeth October 19. The match versus the Panthers kicks-off at Tatlock Park beginning at 4:15 p.m.