Millburn Boys Soccer Advances to Group 3 Title Game
Miller boys advance behind big games from Corbin Stevens and James Raytsin.
This postseason the Millburn boys keep coming up with a way to win and keep finding new heroes to lead them.
This time around, in a 3-2 (3-2 penalty kick) win over Montville at Indian Hills High School, the Miller boys were powered by a pair of juniors, James Raytsin and Corbin Stevens. They led Millburn to its second straight Group 3 championship game on Tuesday.
“It was a beautiful game, it’s nice that we were able to come back from a 2-1 deficit against a really good team,” said Millburn head coach Rob Grosso.
Stevens made two big saves during the penalty kick rounds. Raytsin scored Millburn’s only two goals in regulation and also scored during penalty kicks to help propel Millburn. Drew Rosenberg and co-captain Bryan Gonnella also scored during penalty kicks, with Rosenberg’s coming in round one and Gonnella’s in round three, proving to be the winner.
“I’ve done these a lot before. I just take into account the hip position, where they’re looking, feet and everything like that,” Stevens said. “I have to credit the first save to David Westlake cause he said he knew the kid and he said he’s probably going to my right.”
“We practiced the shootout throughout the entire season. After every session we do kicks,” Raytsin said. “I’m feeling great. I was dying just to get back out on the field. I have been having a goal drought for like the past 10 games. I didn’t have a goal at all and I’ve been dying to get back out there.”
“This is what it’s about. He has experience last year from playing in the state semis, state finals. Today his experience paid off,” Grosso said of Raytsin.
Inside two minutes to play in the first half, Montville’s Matt Pesci scored his second goal of the game, lining a free-kick from 25-yards out off of Steven’s chest and through his arms into the net. It was a save that Stevens would make a hundred times in his sleep, but this time the ball slipped by him and gave Montville the lead. It marked the first time this postseason that Millburn actually trailed a team.
“I was really in the dumps after that goal. I felt like the whole world was collapsing on me,” Stevens said. “If it wasn’t for my teammates, who picked me up, none of this would have happened.”
With 29:36 left to play, Raytsin stole the ball from Pesci and found himself with a one-on-one opportunity against the Montville keeper. Raytsin went low and to the left of the diving net-minder, who had no chance. With the score tied up, and Stevens off the hook, the goalie took over the game and won it for Millburn.
From the point that the score was tied at two, Stevens made five saves, not including the diving stop he had in the first round of penalty kicks against Juan Pablo, putting the pressure squarely on Montville before their keeper even stepped into the net.
Raytsin put Millburn on the board early in the opening half, picking up a loose ball in the box and finding enough space to get the shot through. Pesci tied the game at one in the dwindling minutes of the first period, knocking home a 30-yarder, high and out of the reach of Stevens.
It could be argued Millburn was somewhat outplayed in the first half, with Montville winning the shots on goal battle 10-4 through the first 40 minutes. However, through the second half and two overtime periods, Millburn out-shot the opposition 11-7.
The Millers will play at The College of New Jersey on Friday night in the Group 3 finals, looking to win the group for a second consecutive season. They will face the winner of Princeton and Moorestown.
“This is just surreal, I feel like I’m dreaming right now,” Stevens said. “Nobody thought we’d get this far.”