CHS Boys Soccer Advances in Tournament
The Columbia boys defeated Hillsborough High School, 3-0.
If you beat the team that beat the No. 2 seed in a tournament, what does that make you? That's exactly what the Columbia boys soccer team is asking themselves today after defeating Hillsborough High School in the second round of the NJSIAA state tournament by a score of 3-0.
Columbia came into the tournament seeded 10th and won its first-round game against seventh-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan. Hillsborough came into Friday’s game as the 15th seed and upset second-seeded North Hunterdon, 2-0, in their first-round game.
On a day that could optimistically be called “blustery," the game got underway an hour and 20 minutes late due to some miscommunication with one of the referees. During the delay players were offered a warm spot inside, but both teams declined, opting to stay on the field and keeping themselves warm with extra layers and lots of moving around.
The Cougars got underway by continually pressing the ball to Hillsborough’s side of the field. After a couple of saves by the Hillsborough goalie, Columbia’s Billy Smith scored with an assist from Jeremy Witherspoon. Elated, Smith celebrated in front of the large Columbia crowd and even got his shoe mock-shined and kissed by Luke Ryan. The crowd enjoyed the display; the referee did not and gave Smith a yellow card.
Smith’s goal was the only one in the first half. The absence of a Hillsborough goal was made possible by a series of great saves by Columbia’s goalie, Jackson Klein, who had a total of five saves during the game.
The second half was as fortuitous as the first: two more goals for Columbia, none for Hillsborough. One of Columbia’s goals came a few minutes into the second half. Luke Ryan superbly threw the ball in to Emmanuel Meansali, who, in textbook fashion, headed the ball, making the score 2-0. Later in the half Ryan assisted Dylan French, who scored the Columbia’s third and final goal. After the game, Ryan summed it up: "It was more of a win for Essex County. We are supposedly the 'fifth best' team in Essex, and we are defeating top teams from other counties around the state. It shows how strong Essex County is this season."
Columbia now moves on to the semifinals of the tournament, where they will play third seeded Westfield, which just defeated Dickinson, 1-0.