Boys soccer crowned co-champions of Mercer County; upset in states

On October 27, the boys soccer team tied with Pennington High School 1–1 to become co-champions of the Mercer County Tournament. This was the team’s seventh title since the Mercer County Tournament began 14 years ago. It was a game that tested the team’s ability to remain calm after Pennington scored a goal within minutes of the first half of the game. With an assist from center midfielder Andrew Beamer ’18, forward Dean Patel ’18 was able to get in a goal to even the score. Eventually, the game went into double overtime, and neither team was able to score another goal, so the two schools were declared co-champions.

However, on October 31, the Little Tigers suffered an upset. In the first game of the NJSIAA state tournament, the team lost to Manalapan High School. The score came down to a tie of 2–2. The game had a regulation period, and then went into double overtime. No goals were scored during overtime, so they continued into penalty shots. The team finally met its downfall during the sudden death penalty kicks. This loss came as a surprise, as Princeton High School was seeded second and Manalapan High School was seeded 15th in the Central Jersey Group 4 bracket.

“We got unlucky at the end, but there’s nothing you can do at this point,” said forward Alex Ratzan ’17. “Having only two losses is a big accomplishment. We’re all very proud.”

Despite the loss in the NJSIAA state tournament, the boys varsity soccer team has defied all expectations.

“Going into the year and losing sixteen seniors …  The other teams didn’t think we were going to be that great. But … we were confident. We [were] working hard and making sure that it translated to [our] games,” said midfielder Andrew Goldsmith ’17. Even though the team did not perform up to the standard they had set before the state tournament, the boys soccer team has still had a rewarding season overall. The team maintained its top spot in the Colonial Valley Conference, and managed to finish the season 17–2–1, which also includes seven scrimmage games.

Moving on to next year, the captains stress the importance and value of working hard and playing as a team. Additionally, they hope that younger players can make it as far if not further in the years to come. Head Coach Wayne Sutcliffe shared some of his sentiments about the outcome of this year’s season. “I’m very proud of the team, the way they improve during the season … and their growth as players. Everybody now is a stronger person and a better player.”

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