It’s been a long time coming, a very long time. But this Sunday, for the first time since 1981, the Verona High School boys soccer team will play for the championship of Group 1.
On Tuesday night, just after the rain cleared out of our area, VHS took the field at Indian Hills High School against Dayton High School in the Group 1 semifinals. Dayton had been favored to take the match, not least of which because its most recent championship was in 2009.
There was a steady drip of field work in the first half but it wasn’t until 29 minutes in that senior Thiago Queiroz found the back of the net for Verona. And with a rock-strong Hillbilly defense and a determined Billy Czupak in goal, that turned out to be the only scoring that Verona needed.
Verona fans, some of whom had been cheering the team’s seniors since they were in second grade, anxiously waited and watched as the second-half clock ticked down, each second bringing them to a Hillbilly victory. There were more than a few gasps at the 7:30 mark as Czupak made a save that could have thrown the game into a tie, and again just 50 seconds before the final buzzer, when he swatted away another Dayton attempt.
On Sunday, Verona will take on south Jersey’s Haddon Township, which made it to the finals on a 5-0 win over Asbury Park. The Group 1 final steps off at 10 a.m. at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium.
Photos copyright Fred Goode Productions. Used by permission.