It’s been more than a year since the Newton and Hunterdon Central boys soccer teams felt this way.
The Red Devils were exulting after a 1-0 victory in the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament final. The host Braves mourned the loss of their undefeated season, as well as their 29-game unbeaten streak.
This is the Red Devils’ second straight HWS championship, the third in the tournament’s five years. They had also handed Newton its last loss — in the HWS semifinal last October.
Hunterdon Central senior Max Gomez tucked the ball inside the left post, a shot that rolled across and settled in the opposite corner of the back of the net with 29:48 left in the match. Gomez and junior Jon Spearman played the ball back and forth, and Gomez turned on the defender and shot far post.
“It feels good being the champion again,” Gomez said. “We’re a very strong team. We’re very motivated, very athletic. We work very hard. We wanted it more.”
The No. 1 seed from Hunterdon and Warren counties, the Red Devils (20-0-1) have scored 13 goals in the HWS while allowing just one, to Hopatcong in the second round. Hunterdon Central goalkeeper Cameron Zell made three saves on Saturday night.
A reserve at the start of the season, Gomez had also scored the lone goal in the Red Devils’ semifinal victory over Lenape Valley. He has six goals in seven matches since Oct. 8.
The Braves (20-1-1) had a couple of solid opportunities late in the match, but defender Chris Guth’s header was touched over the goal by Zell and striker Leo Recalde’s ball went wide after he broke through the Hunterdon Central back line. It is the first time both striker Ryan Cronin and midfielder Brett Conrads were held scoreless this fall.
Newton begins defense of its NJSIAA Group II title hosting Elmwood Park on Tuesday.
“It’s our first loss and our last loss of the season,” Newton coach Brian Martin said. “Now we’ve got to run the table. That’s where our mind is at now.”