Randolph boys soccer defeats Mendham in Morris County Tournament semifinal

Randolph boys soccer defeats Mendham in Morris County Tournament semifinal

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Randolph boys soccer defeats Mendham in Morris County Tournament semifinal

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MOUNTAIN LAKES

Mateo Panizza couldn’t even remember where the ball came from. All the Randolph striker knew was that it was at his feet, and a Mendham defender was behind him. He turned quickly, faked right, cut back to his left and shot the ball.

It deflected off the crossbar and into the Minutemen’s net.

Panizza wasn’t entirely clear what happened after that either. There was a lot of running, and screaming, and soccer jerseys getting torn off in celebration of Randolph’s 1-0 double-overtime victory over Mendham.

The Rams advanced to the Morris County Tournament final for the first time since 1996. They will face top-seeded Delbarton, who polished off Morristown, 4-0, in the second half of Sunday’s semifinal doubleheader.

“I knew it was going to go in as soon as I hit it,” Panizza said. “I just felt it. It’s our dream to win the final. Now we’ve just got to get it. At the beginning of the year, I knew it was going to happen. I just felt it.”

But Panizza’s premonition had seemed dim for much of the match. Mendham (12-6) dominated the offensive third, peppering Rams goalkeeper Greg Moserowitz and the defense with shot after shot. But the 10th-seeded Minutemen had almost as much trouble with accuracy as Randolph had just finding a scoring opportunity.

Mendham senior Malcolm Montilus appeared to score midway through the first half, but the goal was whistled off for a handball. Junior Jake Corpuz cleared a header from Minutemen senior Gavin Coutts off the post about 10 minutes into the second half.

Panizza had the Rams’ best chance in regulation, a 40-yard free kick in the final minute which went right to Mendham goalkeeper Colin Hastings.

“One mistake on us can lose us a whole game, regardless of how hard we worked the first two halves,” Coutts said. “They got a good shot, one chance. We’d been playing better than them the whole game, so we weren’t all that worried (going into OT). That one chance that they got was enough.”

Randolph senior Demetri Diamintidis had a couple of early opportunities in the second overtime, first a free kick which Hastings punched wide, then a rebound from the left side which Hastings was again able to clear.

Panizza’s shot came with four minutes left in the second OT, the ninth time the Rams (8-3-4) have played extra time this fall.

Sixth-seeded Randolph has won each of its MCT matches by 1-0 scores, the last two in double overtime. Panizza has scored all three of the Rams’ tournament goals, with Moserowitz earning three clean sheets.

“We’ve been in this situation too many times this season,” said Moserowitz, who now has nine shutouts, including a 1-0 NJAC-National victory over Mendham on Sept. 18.

“We’re the kings of overtime. We always get here, and we find a way to score. … I’s kind of like a normal game to us. The other team’s always more tired than us. We know what it takes when we get to this situation.”

Mendham (12-6) 0 0 0 0 0
Randolph (8-3-4) 0 0 0 1 1

GOAL: Mateo Panizza (R). SAVES: Greg Moserowitz (R) 10, Colin Hastings (M) 2. SHOTS: Mendham 22-5.

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