ARDSLEY – Back and forth, North Salem and S.S. Seward battled in the boys soccer Class C regional final Saturday afternoon, each team waiting for the other to slip up and allow a goal that would propel them on to states.
All told, it took 103 minutes and two penalty shots for the Tigers come from behind and dispatch the Spartans.
Seward struck early, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute when senior Joe Villani’s strike from outside the box on the right arced into the top left corner past North Salem goalkeeper James Buzzetto.
“We knew coming into the game, we’d have to keep our composure,” said North Salem head coach Ron Hendrie. “We knew they were a large, physical team.”
It wouldn’t be long before North Salem’s composure would be tested. As a North Salem pass was fed in to the box, Seward goaltender Ryan Stam lept and grabbed the ball, and as he came down, delivered a closed hand to the face of North Salem’s Frank DiGiacomo.
Stam was sent off with a yellow card, replaced in goal by Jack Gardiner, who immediately had to face a penalty shot from North Salem’s Michael Selzer. Selzer neatly placed the ball in the left corner, tying the game at one apiece in the 28th minute.
Late in regulation, Seward’s Liam Fritsch was sent off with a red card after a hard challenge along the sideline resulted in his second yellow card of the game, forcing Seward to play a man down for the remainder of the match.
As time ticked down in overtime, North Salem threatened several times, including a chance for DiGiacomo in the 95th minute that was stopped by Stam.
“We saw that there were balls bouncing across the box the entire game, and we were just looking for a chance to put one in there,” said North Salem senior John Martabano.
With North Salem continuing to pressure the Seward defense, a Tigers corner kick in the 103rd minute drew a penalty shot for a handball inside the box. Martabano buried the ball in the left corner, sending the Tigers on to the state semifinals, where they will face Potsdam from Section 10 next Saturday.
Player of the game: John Martabano, North Salem – Martabano scored on the overtime penalty shot give North Salem the win.
Turning point: Fritsch’s second booking in the 78th minute made space on the field for North Salem to create more offensive chances. North Salem outshot Seward 3-0 following Fritsch’s red card, and earned four corner kicks.
Stat line: North Salem’s James Buzzetto made seven saves on eight shots, and Michael Selzer and John Martabano each contributed goals off of penalty shots. Seward’s Ryan Stam made seven saves on eight shots, and Jack Gardiner made zero saves on one shot. Stam returned to the game at the start of the second half.
Quotable: “I said to (Michael Selzer), when we get the next penalty shot, I want to take it,” said Martabano. “It was crazy. I didn’t even see (the ball) go in. I just heard everyone cheering.”