The Hilltoppers (14-6-1) will host Bearden in Thursday’s regional final. The Bulldogs downed Dobyns-Bennett 4-2 to advance.
Morristown West (12-5-3) stunned the ’Toppers in the second minute of the match when Ruben Laureano took a through ball from PJ Reyes and blasted it into the back of the goal to give the Trojans a quick 1-0 advantage.
“We just didn’t start out with our heads in the game,” said Science Hill senior Dylan Sanchez. “And we paid for it with that early goal.”
West’s goal stood up for the remainder of the first half.
Six minutes into the second half, the Hilltoppers gave their fans something to shout about. Sanchez used a nifty pass to find teammate Ethan DiSantis driving toward the Trojans’ goal. DiSantis slipped the ball past the Trojans keeper and the game was tied at one goal apiece.
“Once we got that equalizer, I could see their tails get up and they really started getting into it,” said Science Hill coach David Strickland.
In the 64th minute, Science Hill took the lead for good with an outstanding effort from Joaquin Subijana. Carson Cox crossed a ball that was deflected by a Morristown West defender. Subijana was in the air but managed to get a touch on the ball and it found its way into the Trojans net, putting the ’Toppers on top 2-1.
“The defender tried to head to ball away and didn’t get all of it,” said Subijana. “That was all I needed, just to finish. It was exciting.”
Less than 10 minutes later Science Hill was on the attack once again. As the Hilltoppers shot the ball, a Trojans’ defender, who was standing in front of the goal, stopped the ball with his hand. He received a red card for an intentional hand ball and Sanchez was awarded a penalty kick, which he converted for the final margin of victory.
“We came out in the second half and upped our intensity,” said Sanchez. “We kept our drive going and that was the difference.”
The contrast between halves was what Strickland talked about after the match.
“The first half we just kicked the ball around,” said Strickland. “In the second half we had more retention of the ball and more touches between players. That’s what got us going.”