The Kearny boys soccer team is determined to keep its season going, even if it requires more time than initially planned.
For the third consecutive time, the Kardinals earned an overtime victory in the state tournament, the latest, a 3-2 win over Westfield in the NJSIAA Group 4 semifinals at Harvey Field.
Senior Hans Zoller, who was coming up from the back, hustled and slid toward a loose ball in the box, poking it into the net for the game winning goal in the 87th minute for Kearny (17-4).
“It’s the mentality of not wanting the season to end in these state games,” Kearny head coach Bill Galka said. “They stay with it through difficult moments in the game. We were definitely under pressure from Westfield and survived it. They showed their great desire to play again.
Just seconds before Zoller’s goal, the Kardinals nearly saw their season come to an end when Westfield’s Benedict Nematadzira fired a shot off the crossbar.
It wasn’t the only time Kearny stared elimination in the face. Zachary Preucil’s goal gave Westfield a 2-1 lead in the 72nd minute. However, less than 30 seconds later, Gabe Gomez answered back with his second goal of the evening.
Gomez, a junior, who now has 17 goals on the year opened the scoring in the 63rd minute to give Kearny a 1-0 lead. Westfield answered just a minute later when Adam Tukaczynski flicked in a David Savransky corner kick to tie it at 1.
With the victory, Kearny is just one win away from a 20th Group 4 state championship.
The Kardinals will face Princeton in the title game on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Franklin High School in Somerset.
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)