LIVINGSTON, NJ - “It is such a big step for this program and it shows how much hard work we have put in,” Livingston senior goalkeeper Brady O’Connor said after the game that put the Lancers in the running for the first county title since 1995.
Hard work is exactly what got Livingston to the Essex County semi-finals and ultimately made them advance to the county final Saturday.
Livingston defeated Verona 1-0 on a Zach Beckerman penalty shot in the 30th minute of the first half.
Verona launched a full-out scoring attack on Livingston. However, the Lancers were prepared and the Hillbillies came up short.
Led by seniors Nick Cheeseman and Jesse Lederman, Livingston did an exceptional job of marking Verona’s forwards. Using the sideline as a defender, Livingston forced the Hillbillies to the middle of the field and collapsed as a whole on the ball. In addition, senior goalkeeper Brady O’Connor made eight key saves for Livingston.
``We played to our strengths,’’ Lederman said. ``It was going to be a defensive battle for us and we used our speed to execute. We countered when necessary and it paid off.’’
Mike King was the pure reason Verona remained in the game. Livingston had countless counter attacks that should have been finished but tremendous goalkeeping halted the Lancers to one goal.
“That’s the best goalkeeping I have seen all year,” Livingston senior forward Sam Katz said. “He made some unreal saves. It was a great match. That’s all we could’ve asked for, luckily we came out on top.”
Livingston’s opponent on Saturday will be the prestigious Pirates of Seton Hall Prep. The Pirates will look to capture their third straight county championship.
Seton Hall defeated Livingston 3-2 on September 26. Livingston had an early 2-0 lead against the No. 4 team in the state but the Pirates charged back.
“Our work will be cut out for us, that’s for sure. We like being the underdog though. It is always fun to surprise people and we have been playing great soccer as of late,” Lederman concluded.