SCOTCH PLAINS – After posting a 3-0 record against Elizabeth this season, which included a victory in the Union County Tournament final, all odds were with the Scotch Plains-Fanwood boys soccer team, but odds don’t win games.
Third-seeded Elizabeth edged second-seeded Scotch Plains-Fanwood 2-0 in the NJSIAA North 2 Group IV semifinal on Tuesday afternoon at Shimme Wexler Field to lock up its spot in the final.
“We shot ourselves in the foot and hurt ourselves by giving away that second goal there,” Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Tom Breznitsky said.
At the 31 minute mark in the second half Elizabeth’s Kevin Patino of Elizabeth, who scored both goals, capitalized on a mistake atypical of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood defense.
Minuteman Maximiliano Acosta got the ball off a pass and with two Raiders defenders on either side of him he quickly tapped the ball forward to a ready and waiting Patino. With no one marking Patino it was a one-on-one play between himself and Raiders goalkeeper Sean Murray. Patino ripped a shot and found net, ensuring Elizabeth’s ticket to the final with the 2-0 lead.
The other Patino goal came in the first half with 26:28 remaining. Antoine Gbamou crossed the ball to his left and found Patino, who reeled in a shot past a diving Murray.
“If my team hadn’t have put in the work then I wouldn’t have got the two goals,” Patino said.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s defeat didn’t come without a lack of effort. The Raiders posted five shots on goal, only one less than their opponent.
Murray had nine saves for the Raiders (20-2-2), while Diego Pellejero had seven saves for Elizabeth (17-3).
“Elizabeth is a good side,” Breznitsky said. “Obviously the old cliché of trying to beat somebody four times is true, it’s difficult. It’s not like they’re not a good team so hats off to them and hats off to our guys because they had a great year.”
Elizabeth coach Joe Cortico thought the reason for his team’s victory was simple. His team played better.
“This was a great win and the boys really wanted this bad,” he said. “We had some tough losses to Scotch Plains and we wanted to prove that we are the better team. Today we were the better team.”
Raiders captain Zach Halma was visibly disappointed with the loss and his team’s performance.
“I think everything has a factor in the loss,” he said. “I don’t think we came out 100 percent. We know that the past three times that we played them they were strong and from the time we knew we were playing them in this round we said we had to come out strong and we didn’t.”
Staff Writer Alyssa Davis: email@example.com