UNION – What a way to go out.
Garfield boys soccer coach Mark Pieklo’s final game ended with his Boilermakers scoring two goals in the last 2:03 to down Holmdel, 2-1, and give the school its first Group 2 state soccer title Sunday morning at Kean.
Soccer games aren’t supposed to be like this. The last 10 minutes alone saw a Garfield goal waved off and a Holmdel goal stand, even though there was some thought that the goal-scorer was offside. Then you had Garfield senior star Dave Herrera line up a perfect free kick, angled from the right side headed in by Wojciech Piwowarczyk with 2:03 left.
Just seconds later, Herrera lined up another free kick, this time from almost straight on at the 35-yard line. He said he missed his target – either Piwowarczyk or Jorge Salas – but the Holmdel keeper advanced out of the goal only to see the ball sail past him.
Two goals in 27 seconds. The Garfield players practically scaled the stands in celebration. And after finishing off the final 96 seconds, they did.
“This is the cherry on top,” said Pieklo after being doused with the championship shower. “This is the perfect cap to a great season, for these guys, these seniors, they deserve it. Four years of incredible work.”
For Pieklo it’s been 18 years of work at Garfield. He’s joked with the kids before about retiring, and said he’s learned multiple languages over the years, but at Saturday’s practice he told them he and his trademark bucket hat were done.
“This was my last game, win or lose,” said Pieklo. “I feel bad for guys like Oscar [Sanchez] and Jorge who are coming back and the sophomores and the freshmen, but it’s time for me to be a dad and watch my kids play.”
“He’s an excellent coach all four years I have been here, he taught me a lot,” said Garfield senior midfielder Chris Pedraza. “I have great respect for the man. He’s just been an amazing coach.”