Sometimes even Greg Moserowitz doesn’t believe it.
The Randolph High School boys soccer team wasn’t supposed to be doing well this fall, not after losing 17 seniors to graduation. Sure, the six returning Rams — three seniors and three sophomores — had high expecations internally.
But this was more than anyone dared to dream about.
Randolph has had a near-perfect season. Not only are the Rams 7-0 in the rugged NJAC-National, they have yet to allow a goal.
Moserowitz, the senior goalkeeper, has a 0.00 goals-against average in seven matches so far. That includes a double overtime draws against Delbarton, Chatham and Morristown, and one-goal victories versus West Morris, Mendham, Parsippany Hills and archrival Roxbury — the last in overtime.
“No one really expected much from us, but now it seems like we’re for real,” Moserowitz said. “We’re not going to roll over and let people win. We’re going to do everything we can to win, and have been all season.”
The big problem for Randolph hasn’t been in the back, where seniors Jake Ryan, Anthony Zarro and John Clements have all been playing on club teams with Moserowitz since U-7. But scoring has been tenuous at best.
The Rams have just four goals in seven matches. Sophomore Mateo Panizza, who had nine last fall, scored in OT against Roxbury. Ryan had the assist on that, and added his own first varsity goal to lift Randolph in double OT against Parsippany Hills on Monday. The other two goals belong to Rodrigo Avila, the former football kicker — again on an assist from Ryan — and senior midfielder Demetrios Diamantidis.
The Rams’ offense has obviously taken more time to come together, with recent practices focusing on passing and building up plays. Panizza also uses pre-match visualization, closing his eyes and picturing the ball hitting the back of the net.
“I have to start getting up there again,” Panizza said. “I’m motivated to score. I give it 110 percent. I go to every ball hard. I think positive. … I have to create (chances) myself and work with what we’ve got.”
Milestone at Mount Olive
Mount Olive coach Dan Gryzwacz hasn’t celebrated many of his recent birthdays on the sideline at a soccer match. There just hasn’t been a whole lot worth celebrating.
But this year, the Marauders gave Gryzwacz a very happy day indeed. Senior goalkeeper Jeff Schafer earned his fifth shutout of the season, 2-0 over Morris Hills, on Sept. 24. That gave Schafer a school-record eight career clean sheets, and Gryczwacz a particularly happy 31st birthday.
Uncharacteristically, he’d told the team the significance of the date before the game, asking Mount Olive to earn him a victory. Schafer was low-key about his milestone, crediting outside backs Nick Hars and Adam Gartside, stopper Chris Grillo and sweeper Thomas Petrocelli.
“It was something to look forward to, something to beat, and it happened to come quickly,” said Schafer, who now has seven shutouts in nine matches. “I just go out there and we work as a team and we win. It’s not just me. … I was lucky to have the team to help me get it.”
Schafer has promised not to shave until Mount Olive loses again. Colleen Gryzwacz, the coach’s wife, has been kept very busy making up business-sized cards to decorate the players’ lockers after shutouts.
Schafer needs just one more shutout to surpass former teammate Austin Crithery’s career record in a single season.
“We believe we can win games now,” Gryzwacz said. “We understand we want to win as a team. We put team first now. It’s definitely a cultural change.”