VERONA, NJ-Going into the state tournament, Verona had high hopes of moving on in the tournament and started off strong with a 7-0 first round win against North Warren. This round, they were faced with a pesky Waldwick team which made it to their group semi-finals last year. Waldwick proved that they have what it takes to make another run, as they topped the Hillbillies 1-0.
The only goal of the game was scored by Griffin Price off a penalty kick. Verona got called for a handball with eight minutes left to go in the first half and Price made them pay for that mistake.
“Unfortunately, we had a mishap in the box with a handball,” said Verona Head Coach Wayne Looney. “They took advantage of it. It’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Penalties played a big part in this game and there appeared to be countless penalties, including some questionable calls, going against Verona. Those penalties not only took away some opportunities for Verona to tie it, but one of them set up the only goal of the game.
As big of a game as this was, real life kicked in as a scary moment happened in the middle of the second half when Verona senior Chris Yeates was taken down with a severe injury and ended up having to be carted off the field and taken away in an ambulance.
“I think when Yeates was taken out, the kid went after him,” noted Looney. “I think he went in high with his legs and took him out. Unfortunately, it’s a very severe injury.”
Despite Verona getting upset as the higher seed, coach Looney still appreciates everything his players accomplished this season.
“The kids were amazing, the seniors were amazing,” said Looney. “Nobody would have expected us to end up 15-5-1 this year.”
Verona has seven seniors graduating this year, but they have enough younger players that will take this loss into next season and try to redeem themselves.
“They have unfinished business,” added Looney. “This is something that they’re going to remember and it’s going to drive them to work harder next year and be better.”