Upsets are always a popular outcome for fans, but for the losing team it means heartbreak.
The Watchung Hills High School boys socce team experienced that heartbreak on Friday, as the top-seeded Warriors fell to seventh-seeded Millburn, 2-1, in the NJSIAA North 2 Group IV final.
“It’s a tough loss,” head coach Greg Leonow said. “Everyone was determined to win today and we had a good span of possession and good chances on goal, but it just didn’t go our way.”
The game started just how the Warriors wanted it to. They dominated possession in the first half, and had many chances to put the ball in the back of the net.
In the 21st minute, those chances paid off, as Luis Goncalves was able to head in a perfectly-thrown in ball from Matt Levin.
“I was looking for the throw in because that’s what our players usually do,” said Goncalves, “I just went up, saw the ball and headed it right in. I didn’t know it went in until I looked.”
The lead would not hold for long.
In the 37th minute, a kick was sent into the box where Warriors’ goalie J.P. Gavin misplayed the ball. Millburn’s Matt Stine was there to clean it up, and sent a volley into the back of the net to tie the game 1-1.
From then on, it was all Millburn as they played great defensively in the second half, and in the 52nd minute, Vasil Mastur slid home the eventual game-winner from just outside the box.
“We played our hearts out,” said Goncalves, “in the end we didn’t get the result that we wanted but we gave it our all and that’s all we could do.”
Despite the loss, Watchung Hills finishes the season as one of the more successful teams in the area. Leonow reiterated that his team should be proud of what they accomplished.
“This was the best team that has come through this school,” said Leonow. “They had the most wins, first all-out county championship, first conference championship in a new division and they’ve been excellent and I’m very proud of them.”
“We all have played with each other for several years now,” said Goncalves, “we all know what each other’s playing style was and we just put that into each other’s playing and made a great team.”