Heading into overtime against sister school Mendham, West Morris sophomore Liam Moylan was calm. Moylan already had assists on all three of the Wolfpack goals, and he was confident another was coming — and soon.
Though both Liam and Dan Moylan were somewhere in the middle of West Morris’ celebratory pile-up after the 4-3 OT victory, things didn’t exactly turn out the way anyone had predicted. The ninth-seeded Wolfpack won on an own goal with less than two minutes remaining in the first overtime.
“We had the momentum, and I felt there was no way we were losing the game at that point,” Moylan said. “When we’re playing our best soccer, no one can beat us, and we were playing our best soccer at the end of that game.”
Senior striker Kevin Henwood had given West Morris (10-7-3) the lead on a wild backward flick in the third minute. The Wolfpack then withstood a Mendham offensive onslaught until seven minutes remained in the first half.
The Minutemen (16-6) used their own brotherly love to break through, as Julian Montilus took a pass from his older brother Malcolm and headed it home. Two minutes later, Mendham striker Justin LaSorsa added another goal on a rebound off Malcolm Montilus’ saved shot.
LaSorsa returned the favor, dishing off to Montilus for Mendham’s third goal with two minutes remaining before halftime. Montilus ran toward the Minutemen bench pumping his fist to the crowd.
Mendham had scored on three consecutive shots over a span of 5:17, but Henwood and the Wolfpack still remained confident. Many of the West Morris seniors had played together since being part of the Long Valley Scorpions in second grade, and were able to raise each other’s spirits.
It only took four minutes for the larger, more physical Wolfpack to regain their momentum. Senior midfielder Brian Kluse headed home Liam Moylan’s corner midway through the second half, and Henwood tied the game with 22:25 left.
Mendham midfielder Leo Canino split two defenders in the final seconds of regulation but his shot went high. Kluse launched a rocket midway through the first OT, but Minutemen goalkeeper Colin Hastings was able to punch it away.
“We can’t give up any time we play,” said Henwood, who left the game late in the second half with his chin bloodied. “We never give up. You can’t give up at this point. We’ve played Mendham twice already, and we knew what we had to do when we came out here.”
These teams had split a pair of NJAC-National regular-season games, with each winning at home. A year ago, Mendham slipped into the NJSIAA Tournament as the 16th seed and ran the table all the way to a Group III semifinal.
West Morris now hosts No. 16 Morristown, which upset top-seeded Cliffside Park in its own double-overtime match on Tuesday afternoon.
“That’s soccer,” visibly deflated Mendham coach Russ Raffay said. “It’s a momentum game. … It’s a heartbreaker.”