By Rich Fisher |Correspondent
The Notre Dame High School boys’ soccer team didn’t just win the Mercer County Tournament championship on Nov. 2.[[In-content Ad]]
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The Irish were also part of what was one of the greatest MCT title games ever played, as the match had everything one could ask for.
“I’ve never been a part of something this awesome,” said Irish goalie Jamie Galazin, who played a major role in the Irish’s shootout victory over Hightstown at Rider University.
Irish coach Mike Perone, who has been around Mercer County soccer longer than any other active coach, shared how exciting the game was. “This was a good game,” he said. “This was a really good game. This was a great game.” At the end of a scoreless first half the Rams lost one of their top players when Hector Reyes went off with a pulled hamstring. Two minutes into the second half, ND’s Brian Hawkins drilled a shot that goalie Jacob Reyes, who had 16 saves, deflected but couldn’t contain. Evan Kirton scored on the rebound; not long after, Derick Carpio scored to tie it.
Hawkins, who left the game near the end of the second overtime with what was feared to be a concussion, scored an incredible goal to give the Irish another lead. Carpio scored an equally pretty goal to tie it with 1:30 remaining in regulation.
After two scoreless overtimes in which Jacob Reyes was dazzling, the game went to penalty kicks. Each team made their first two before Galazin tipped Carpio’s attempt over the goal. Galazin then took the ND penalty kick and converted to make it 3-2.
Christian Bermeo scored for Hightstown; Phillip Africa tallied to give ND a 4-3 lead; and Galazin made a diving save on Walter Barreto to win it.
“I don’t know, I just got lucky …” Galazin said. “I mean, both teams just played outstanding.”
Perone had no fears of giving Galazin the chance to shoot a penalty kick.
“Goaltenders are good with that,” he said. “They’re good at directing a ball right where they’re supposed to go. Jamie’s an excellent goaltender, he controls the box, he’s a big kid. He came through for us big time.”
It was Notre Dame’s first MCT title since sharing the crown with Hopewell in 2006.
Hightstown was the loser on paper. But anyone who played in this game was a winner.