Boys soccer crosses bridge to semifinals


Photo Credit: Ian Stephenson

Glen Rock players and fans celebrate their victory over Fort Lee in the Bergen County Tournament quarterfinals.

by Ian Stephenson, Sports Editor


That was the word used by Glen Rock boys soccer coach Casey Schick and junior forward Ben Zakowski to describe the Bergen County quarterfinal match on Sunday. Glen Rock defeated 7th seeded host Fort Lee 3-2 in overtime to reach the semifinals of the county tournament for the first time since 1991.

And it was probably the right word, considering what this match comprised: two red cards, two penalty kicks, extra time, and huge saves from both goalkeepers. However, there was never any doubt to the Panthers as to who would come out on top.

“We knew we would score the third goal at some point,” Schick said.

Glen Rock had a good chance early on when junior Josh Kim had a free kick that deflected off the wall and nearly snuck in; however, Fort Lee goalkeeper Evan Schlatter managed to force it out. The Panthers would take the lead in the 11th minute when defender Mark Buckel launched a free kick from his own half of the field into the opposition penalty area, which Zakowski latched onto and crossed for John Corry to score his fifth goal of the season. The rest of the half did not produce many chances, though Schlatter did make a save on senior midfielder Hiroki Doyle to keep it at 1-0.

The Bridgemen came out firing in the second half, attacking the Glen Rock goal and eventually taking the lead through Kensei Fukui who volleyed in from close range following a long throw in. Fort Lee would soon take the lead when Glen Rock defender Owen Corry fouled a Fort Lee player in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Panther goalkeeper Zack Fazal was able to stop the initial shot from Fort Lee’s top scorer, Michael Duarte, but he was unable to prevent Duarte’s rebound from going in to give Fort Lee a 2-1 lead. Despite this, Glen Rock kept their belief.

“We had a good 20 minutes to keep going at it,” said Zakowski. However, Fort Lee kept pushing forward, with Fazal denying Fort Lee striker Alex Gegechkori on two breakaways, keeping Glen Rock in the game and earning praise from his coach and teammates.

“He stepped up when it counted and made some amazing saves,” Schick stated, while Zakowski said that Fazal saved the team. Glen Rock eventually  equalized with 13 minutes remaining in the second half when Kim tried his luck from the edge of the box and Schlatter was unable to control the rebound, which then fell to Zakowski who scored. Less than a minute later, the Bridgemen were reduced to 10 men when midfielder William Kim received a second yellow card for a tackle on Justin Kochman and was sent off. Schick said that this gave his team confidence, while Zakowski believed that Glen Rock should try to attack a tired defense that was now down a man. However, this was short lived, as Nick Rogers also received a second yellow card minutes later, which evened the numbers once again.

“Our boys knew that they needed to step up and play even harder than they did before,” Schick said.

Not long after that, the game took another twist when John Corry’s cross was handled in the box and Glen Rock was awarded a penalty kick. However, with Rogers having been sent off, the Panthers did not have their primary penalty taker. Zakowski stepped up but his shot, as well as Buckel’s rebound attempt, were both saved by Schlatter, and time soon expired, sending the match to overtime.

In the extra period, Glen Rock was awarded a free kick 45 yards out from goal, which Buckel sent low into the box. Senior co-captain Michael Lee then attempted to play the ball across, however it bounced off of two Fort Lee defenders before falling to Zakowski on his weaker left foot, who took the shot from 15 yards, and with the keeper scrambling, it went into the bottom right corner, securing the victory, putting Glen Rock into the semifinals against defending state champion Ramapo.

“This was a huge win for the boys and for the program,” said Schick, “I hope we continue to play up to our potential and continue to play with the underdog mentality.”