MORRIS TWP. – John McDonald didn’t even want to take the trophy. Morristown-Beard had just finished a 2-2 double-overtime draw with Newark Academy in the New Jersey Independent Schools Athletic Association final, but the Crimson co-captain didn’t feel fulfilled.
Finally, McDonald posed for photos with his teammates, most managing at least a half-smile. But the lack of an outright victory still stung.
“It didn’t end exactly the way we wanted it to,” McDonald said. “No one wants to be a co-champion. But it’s something we can take pride in.”
The Minutemen did the same on the other side of the field. Though the visitors seemed a little more upbeat, Morristown-Beard was able to pull off a late comeback for the tie on Sunday afternoon.
Both Newark Academy goals were improbable. Midfielder Noah Nazmiyal put the Minutemen on the scoreboard with a 40-yard free kick which rode the wind into the upper left corner with 7:52 left in the first half. Less than four minutes into the second half, outside back Eric Liao gave Newark Academy a 2-0 lead on a shot which ricocheted off the left goalpost.
Meanwhile, Morristown-Beard seemed more adept at kicking field goals than finding the back of the net. McDonald finally scored on a flick off the back of his head with 15 minutes to play. He also drew the penalty which sophomore Mason Toye converted into the tying goal nine minutes later.
Toye appeared to win the championship for the Crimson, after stealing the ball from Newark Academy goalkeeper Ben Barba in front of the goal. But he was called offside, and the match went on to OT.
Only two current players — McDonald and senior striker Kevin Budd — had been born when Morristown-Beard won its last Prep B title in 1996. Despite the tie, the Crimson are now two-thirds of the way to their preseason goal of NJAC-Liberty, NJISAA and NJSIAA championships. Or “1.75 of that,” McDonald said wryly. Morristown-Beard and Newark Academy are on the same side of the NJSIAA Non-Public North B bracket, and could meet in a semifinal in a couple of weeks.
The Morristown-Beard field hockey and girls soccer teams lost Prep B finals on Sunday.
“It’s mixed feelings,” Toye said. “You’re happy to be a champion, but it’s a loss and a win at the same time. It’s a little bit annoying. I wish we could have a PK shootout to determine whether we’re a champion or not a champion. We really just want to be champions.”