Johnson Boys, Girls Soccer Teams Defeated in County Tourney, But Advance in States
Both teams lost in the semifinals of the UCT, but are making moves in the NJSIAA tourney.
Here, recaps from the Union County Tournament semifinals.
BOYS VARSITY SOCCER
UCT Semifinals: Arthur L. Johnson (14-3-2) vs. Scotch Plains (8-6-6)
Third-seeded Arthur L. Johnson faced off against seventh-seeded Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the Union County Tournament semi-final Saturday night. The match took place under the lights at Kean University. After a great season, Johnson earned the higher seed coming into this match-up, but they were facing an experienced team in Scotch Plains. Scotch Plains is no stranger to the UCT semi-finals having won 14 titles, most among Union County.
These teams were evenly matched and fought to a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation. The tension built throughout the game, with each team showing bursts of impressive offensive attacks that were thwarted by the equally stellar play of the defense and goalkeepers. Johnson goalie Robbie Haddad made some key saves to keep the score knotted up as the game went into overtime.
Still scoreless through two overtime periods, the teams went to penalty kicks. The first round of penalty kicks ended with each team making four of five kicks, taking the game into sudden death penalty kicks. Johnson's Christian Nieto and Scotch Plains's Daniel McMillan each scored in the first round of sudden death. Paul Cselovszky shot next for the Crusaders; his shot just missed, deflecting off of the right post. Freshman Andrew Leischner shot next for Scotch Plains, and he nailed it, just past the right side of Haddad for the dramatic game winner.
"It was a tough loss, we played our hearts out. The team gave it our all but we came up short in the shoot out," said center mid-fielder for Johnson, Tyler Faede.
Round 1 of the NJSIAA: On Monday, Johnson beat Spotswood, 4-0.
Round 2 of the NJSIAA: On Thursday, Johnson beat Governor Livingston, 1-0.
Next: The NJSIAA semifinals are TBA for Monday, when Johnson will take on the winner of today's North Plainfield vs. Long Branch game at home.
GIRLS VARSITY SOCCER
UCT Semifinals: Arthur L Johnson (9-6-1) vs. Westfield (11-4-1)
Coming off a big 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Union on Friday, the third-seeded Crusader girls were set to face off against top-seeded Westfield on Saturday in Clark. Westfield, also coming off an easy victory against Oak Knoll, had advanced to its fifth straight semifinal county match-up. Johnson and Westfield have had very different seasons this year. While Johnson started the season strong, winning 6 of its first 7 games, the team closed out the season losing five of its next seven matches. The team backed into the Union County Tournament based on the strength of its early-season run, but proved it belonged in the tournament by beating Union in the quarterfinals. Westfield, on the other hand, started their season with an unusually slow 1-2-1 start, but finished strong winning 6 of its last 7 games going into the semifinal match up against Johnson.
In the first half, Westfield's Sam Costello scored in the 14th minute. A few minutes later, Catherine Kerr added another goal, giving the Blue Devils an early 2-0 lead. Entering the second half down two goals, the Crusaders needed to put some points on the board to get themselves back into the game. Westfield's Hannah Kronick's strike past the keeper in the 46th minute made possibilities of a Crusader comeback look pretty bleak.
The Crusaders offense kept pressure on the Westfield defense all game, putting together some good scoring chances. However, Blue Devil goalie Gaby Gold recorded four saves for Westfield's 10th shutout of the season.
The injury-plagued Crusaders played a strong, determined game. Sophomore defensive star Eryka Underwood went down with an injury to her left knee early in the game. Other key injuries for the Crusaders included Cat Hanley who went down briefly but stayed in the game, and Julianne Juzefyk who came out of the game with an injury to her ribs. The Crusaders were simply unable to put the ball in the net against Westfield's staunch defensive performance.
Round 1 of the NJSIAA: On Tuesday, Johnson beat North Plainfield, 4-0.
Next: Round 2 of the NJSIAA on Friday puts Johnson up against Delaware Valley at a 2 p.m. away game.