CLARK, NJ - Call it Body (of work) by Jake.
That would be Jake, as in Jake Maslin -- the Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team's senior goalkeeper and team captain. The body of work would be 16 saves, including two decisive stops in a penalty kick shootout, which served as the foundation for the second-seeded Hilltoppers victory over third-seeded Westfield in the Union County Tournament (UCT) semifinals at AL Johnson High School.
Jeff Greenstein's first-half goal was canceled out by a second-half goal from the Blue Devils and neither team could break the deadlock in two, 10-minute Extra Time sessions. The sum of those parts meant the match was headed to the dreaded spot kick shootout, which the Maroon and White won 4-2 to claim the triumph.
In the UCT Final on October 25, Summit -- now 12-4-2 on the season -- will face top-seeded Elizabeth at Kean University. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
The initiative, endeavor and work rate of Head Coach Ben Stuart's boys from the 07901 was stellar throughout and, despite coming up second-best in the first 40 minutes' possession battle, they were first on the scoreboard.
In the 28th minute, the Hilltoppers won a corner, which was taken to the left of the Westfield goal. Inswinging service from sophomore Ethan Harris was met by the noggin of Jose Osorio. The senior captain's whose sharp header was saved, but the ball ping-ponged to Greensten on the right side of the six-yard box and the junior wasted little time in finding back of the net.
That tally triggered what seemed like a fairly unbridled Summit celebration -- revelry which later would be massively overshadowed by the pitch-stormer that followed Maslin's ultimate save. Yes, The 'Top was up for the fight, and led 1-0.
While Westfield had more of the ball in the first half, the Blue Devils did not create any high-quality chances of note. One of those factors changed in the second half and, hint-hint, it wasn't the possession metric.
Early in the second half, Westfield -- and the chances they created -- began coming in Blue waves. Greenstein blunted a shot off the line two minutes into the final 40 minutes, and Maslin's save clicker began making a lot of noises thereafter.
In the 63rd minute, Westfield finally broke through. A neat move that began the middle of the park wound up on the foot of John Desenta. The Blue Devil striker then found midfielder AJ Bertch who slid the ball past Maslin to level the score.
Thanks to Maslin and some brave defending from his teammates, whose collective commitment and effort never waned, Summit made it to Extra Time and then to PKs. There, looking like a squad that was enjoying the moment, the Hilltoppers stepped p one-by-one to slot home their PKs and Maslin -- diving once to his right and the other time to left -- stoned two Blue Devil shooters and the real party was on.