WALDWICK — Connor Conyngham found himself on the doorstep and kicked it in. So to speak.
Thursday, the Waldwick striker scored his team’s first goal against rival Park Ridge this fall. That opened the door for the Warriors to win the North 1, Group 1 boys soccer title, 2-0, after dropping a pair of divisional matches to the Owls in the regular season.
Waldwick (19-4-2) will face New Providence in the Group 1 state semifinals Tuesday at Indian Hills.
Conyngham was near the goal line in the 31st minute when Dom Scardigno lofted a cross into the six-yard box that was knocked down by a leaping Park Ridge keeper. With a defender on him, Conyngham “hip-checked” the ball into the goal.
“We [talk] all year about desire for the balls in the box, and I had all the desire, and I wanted that goal, so I snuck it right in,” the senior said. “I kind of just bodied it in.”
What it means
Waldwick collected its fourth sectional title in eight seasons and the sixth of coach Jon Noschese’s 21-year tenure. The team now has the chance to reach its first state final since 2011.
“When they [Park Ridge] came to our home field and beat us, 3-0 [on Sept. 17], everyone said this was Park Ridge’s year,” Waldwick keeper Lucas Mainenti said. “And then, we went to their field, and they beat us, 1-0. But we always believed in ourselves, when no one else did.”
Park Ridge finished 19-3 and conceded just 14 goals on the season.
John McHugh added the insurance goal with just more than 10 minutes to play. The Warriors were awarded an indirect free kick from 10 yards away after the Owls’ goalie picked up a ball that was passed back by a teammate.
Christopher Borgese tapped the ball in motion, and McHugh’s initial shot ricocheted off the Park Ridge wall before the junior tucked home the rebound.
The score came minutes after the Owls used a pair of strong Dustin Glynn throw-ins to challenge for the equalizer, only to come away empty.
By the numbers
191: The scoreless streak, in minutes, that Nicholas Depasquale (eight saves) and the Park Ridge defense put together against Waldwick this fall.
6-of-8: Amount of sectional finals in which the Warriors have played since 2011.
1: Save made by Mainenti. Glynn had a throw-in that one of the Owls headed toward the far post in the 49th minute, and the keeper was able to deflect it off the post with a dive to his right. “I was not sure if I could get it or not, I gave everything I had and just got a fingertip on it,” Mainenti said.
They said it
“We’ve been practicing this week, trying to unlock that [Park Ridge] defense. They have one of the best defenses that our league [NJIC Patriot] has seen in the last few years. So we kept working, trying to stretch them, moving them out – to be honest with you, soccer is just one of those games. Our shots went in this time, whereas last time, they didn’t.” – Noschese