BOONTON, NJ - The Cedar Grove boys soccer team’s historic season came to an abrupt end following a 3-0 loss in the opening round of the North One Group One State Playoffs to Boonton on Tuesday.

`    “It was a disaster of about 15 minutes in the second half where we had a good idea of how they like to score goals with certain tendencies in set pieces, and stuff like that and within that 15 minute time frame we did that,” said Head Coach Mike Konopka.

    Boonton found a way to dominate for a 15-minute stretch that changed the complexion of the game. Goals by Scott Tolachko, Qusay Abuwad, and Drilon Tosca put the Bombers up for good. 

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    “If you give a team like that a three goal lead it’s going to be real hard clawing out of that hole,” said Konopka. 

    In the first half the Panthers held their own against the Bombers. Goaltender Jayson Rosen, in what would be his final game collected, four first half saves to keep the Panthers in the contest. 

    “[Rosen] has been pretty solid for us all year, the goals weren’t his fault tonight…[He’s] a senior, he’s started the last two years for us, and he’s had a solid run,” said Konopka. 

    Cedar Grove failed to convert on some key corner kick opportunities in the first half that could have changed the outcome of the contest.

    The Panthers will finish the season with a 12-5 record and the Independence Division Title -- the first-ever conference title for the program.   The team will have to replace key scoring from Massimo & Simone Saletta along with solid goaltending from Rosen.

    “There are some big shoes to fill,” said Konopka. 

    Despite a less than savory State Playoff outcome the group will return a number of starters for 2020 that they hope will take the next step in their evolution as a team and program.

    “We’re going to have a lot of guys returning next year, and we hope that they learned from the bad experiences in those close games,” said Konopka.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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