On Halloween night, Oct. 31, hours after the Monroe-Woodbury Girls Varsity Soccer team captured its seventh consecutive Section 9 championship, Boys Varsity Soccer team took the field in Middletown to face the NFA Goldbacks in an an attempt to defend its Section 9 title.
The Crusaders entered the game with a 10-3-3 record and the #2 seed and the Goldbacks entered with a 11-3-2 and the #1 seed.
The Crusaders beat the Goldbacks last year 3-0 to take the Section 9 title. The Goldbacks and the Crusaders battled to a 2-2 tie in September and the Goldbacks beat the Crusaders in overtime 1-0 a week ago.
The Crusaders scored first when Connor McSherry pounced on a loose ball and drove it into the Goldbacks net for a 1-0 lead.
About a minute later Petro Klish dribbled the ball through the Goldback defense and scored to give the Crusaders a 2-0 lead.
However, the Goldbacks picked up the pace and controlled the rest of the half. But goalie Paddy Gillen and the Crusader defense withstood the Goldback barrage and score remained at 2-0 at the half.
The Goldbacks came out of the locker room after the half and took over. They hit a short shot off the cross bar in the first few minutes, then scored a goal off of their relentless pressure.
The Goldbacks then tied the score a few minutes later when they scored off a free kick from just inside the box.
It looked as though the Goldbacks were going to run the Crusaders right out of Faller Field at that point but the Crusaders defense rose up again and turned the tide.
With the score tied at two at the end of regulation the two teams went into sudden death overtime for the Section 9 title.
Early in the overtime Crusader Tenmetey Tetteh-Nartey moved the ball down the right side and hit a sharp cross to a sliding Jesse Schwartz.
Schwartz was able to just outreach the Goldback goalie and the ball rolled into the net and the Crusader team exploded as they captured the second consecutive Section 9 title.
The Crusaders 3-2 overtime victory puts them into the NYSPHSAA State Tournament where they will defend their state title next Saturday when they face the winner of the play-in game between the Section 1 and Section 4.
- William Dimmit