GLASSBORO – As his team picked up its gear for the final time, Shane Snyder knew one thing to be true.
“It’s too soon to think about the past four years,’ the veteran Washington Township boys coach said. “This was a good game. You knew that this game would come down to one of those scrum goals. It’s going to be a bouncing ball in the box. We had our chances but that’s what happens.”
Atticus Lynch scored on a rebound with 27 minutes left in the game as Princeton beat Washington Township 1-0 at Rowan University on Tuesday night in the NJSIAA Group 4 state semifinals. While Township outshot Princeton 5-2 that really isn’t a reflection of how tight this game was from start to finish.
Both teams played a conservative style in the first half not wanting to allow that first goal. In a tight match with two evenly skilled teams, that first goal meant a lot, and in hindsight it meant everything.
“Whomever got that one scrappy goal, whoever fought the hardest in the box would win this game,’ said Minutemen senior Will McCusker said. “Especially at halftime, you knew the team that scored first was probably going to win.”
Off a restart, Princeton sent the ball into the area where, after it pinballed around for a moment or two, Lynch stepped up and put the ball home for a 1-0 lead.
“It wasn’t a thing of beauty but it wasn’t going to be,” Snyder said. “No one to blame. Wasn’t because of the referees. It wasn’t because we got outworked or got outplayed. This was an even game, both sides played really hard, they just found the net and we didn’t.”
Over the final 20 minutes, the Minutemen had plenty of chances as the game opened up. The hero of the South Jersey final Michael Funaro had a pair of shots and sent several excellent balls into the area on restarts but time and time again, Township just couldn’t get that final push on goal.
“(Princeton) is a very good team,” McCusker said. “We had never seen them before so you don’t know what to expect. I was hoping for a better outcome but we played our hardest and we left everything out there.”
Still, with a large group of seniors on the roster, Washington Township may have seen this as a missed opportunity. At the same time, this senior class went through four years in which the Minutemen (21-3-1) won four South Jersey titles and a pair of state titles.
In the end, that’s a heck of a legacy even if Snyder wasn’t quite ready to talk about legacies. Fortunately, McCusker grasped the moment.
“It’s already sunk in a bit,’ McCusker said. “We go to school tomorrow and not having practice after school is going to stink.
“We have a great history and we wanted to live up to the expectations. I feel like we exceeded those expectations. We had a 20 win season, we won South Jersey.
“Every senior class leaves a legacy behind. I always refer back to Mark Burgo, Tyler Logar when I was a freshman. Ryan Logar even my brother (Ed) and I just hope I’ve had the impact they had on me for the next group coming through.”
Tigers 1, Minutemen 0
Wash. Twp. 0--0--0
Atticus Lynch. Saves: Patrick Jacobs, P, 5; Mike Pagano, WT, 1.