Mitchell Goodbar hadn’t even scored a goal for Mountain Lakes yet, but the junior midfielder already had a nickname. The Lakers had dubbed him “Garbage Man,” and he lived up to it on Thursday afternoon.
Goodbar’s opportunistic first varsity goal was the game-winner in Mountain Lakes’ 3-2 comeback victory over Pequannock.
“I just ran over there when I saw the ball, and I put it in,” he said. “It feels delicious.”
Goodbar scored with about eight minutes left, but it was senior goalkeeper Jason Wolpov who truly ensured the Lakers victory about a minute later, diving into a pile of feet and bodies in front of the net and coming up with the ball. Wolpov finished with eight saves, all but one in the second half.
Host Pequannock (3-1-1) had controlled possession for most of the match, playing an aggressive quick-passing style which even Mountain Lakes coach Mark Walters complimented. The Panthers’ offense was in high gear, with seven first-half shots — but the only truly dangerous attempt came on a long ball from junior Brett Dericks which ricocheted off the top left corner of the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Lakers lone striker Gene Hong tallied twice within eight minutes in the first half. Hong first converted on a breakaway, and then took a great pass from senior midfielder Kyle Wright and put it past Pequannock’s diving goalkeeper and the near post.
Mountain Lakes converted its first two shots of the match.
“I was a bit surprised by that pass,” Hong said of Wright, who had dribbled past a pair of Panthers defenders. “In that position, you expect him to shoot the ball himself. … It’s always good to get the win. We’re always looking to get better. From the first half, we were in the driver’s seat, and we let that slip a little bit. Maybe it was complacency.”
Pequannock has already showed quite a bit of tenacity this season, with an overtime victory over Kinnelon and an OT comeback draw with Montville already on its resume. The Panthers were able to come from behind again on Thursday, with goals from senior midfielder Stan Wisniewski and junior midfielder Brett Dericks.
But Pequannock is still rebuilding after the graduation of 12 seniors, losses which particularly hurt its new defense which senior Mike Happe described as “a work in progress.” The Lakers (4-0) were able to capitalize on counterattacks to go up early, before the Panthers’ rebuilt back line was quite able to settle in.
“We’re going through growing pains,” Pequannock coach Carl Strong said. “We seem to be cardiac kids. We get into tight games, and figure it out. We’ve got a team that can compete.”
|Mountain Lakes (4-0)||2||1||–||3|
GOALS: (ML) Gene Hong 2, Mitchell Goodbar; (P) Brett Dericks, Stan Wisniewski. ASSISTS: (ML) Kyle Wright 2; (P) Aaron Diehl, Eric Liberato. SAVES: (ML) Jason Wolpov 8; (P) Bill Troast 4.