By Daniel Martin
The final minutes of Friday night’s PSAL Class B boys’ soccer championship brought a dramatic swing of emotions for Newtown and Coach Eric Wozniak, not providing the ending he wanted.
Down a goal in the 78th minute, he watched as Newtown senior Juan Valencia launched a miracle shot off a free kick that snuck into the corner of the goal and tied the score. He thought his team had bought itself new life.
“We thought we would at least push it to overtime and have a great chance there,” Wozniak said.
Off the restart, though, New Utrecht senior Grei Mujok scooped up an errant Newtown pass and dribbled past defenders down the right side of the field. He proceeded to bury a shot in the back of the net, for the game-winning goal for fifth-seeded New Utrecht. It handed No. 3 Newtown a 3-2 defeat on Randall’s Island Saturday night. It was an unlucky occurrence for the Pioneers.
“Unfortunately, the pass hit the referee and they got the bounce and the kid went down the line and finished the goal,” Wozniak said.
Early pressure from Newtown led to the night’s first score, this coming from Mujok in the 15th minute. He deposited a rocket into the lower right corner to give the Utes (17-1) a 1-0 lead. More back-and-forth action led to an equalizer from Newtown’s Brian Paredes off a header, set up by junior Eldin Mackic on a free kick cross to tie the score at 1-1.
A penalty kick goal by New Utrecht in the 61st minute gave the Utes what looked like a safe lead until that fateful 78th minute, when Valencia sent the crowd into a frenzy with the game-tying goal on a free kick from 25-yards out. That set up Mujok’s heroics less than a minute later for the win. Mujok was thinking title the whole way.
“‘Please score, please score,’ that’s all I had in mind,” Mujok said he was thinking as he dribbled. “It’s the best feeling ever.”
Newton (16-2) was left with a feeling of defeat, but a satisfaction about what it accomplished this season. It won the division title after placing fourth last year and winning just one game a year ago. The Pioneers’ effort was never in doubt.
“We gave it our all this season,” Wozniak said. “We competed every game and we played smart. We left absolutely everything on the field.”