BELVEDERE – All of the Newark High soccer players were in middle or elementary school the last time the Yellowjackets beat Delcastle.
It took two overtimes on Thursday, but Newark finally downed the Cougars and took a giant step toward an even bigger milestone with a 2-1 victory at Delcastle.
“This team has beaten us throughout the whole time I’ve been in high school,” said Newark senior Diego Guzman, who scored the game winner in the 96th minute. “They’ve always talked smack, so I felt like getting the win was what we had to do.”
The Yellowjackets (9-2 overall, 6-1 Blue Hen Flight A) topped Delcastle (8-5, 3-4) for the first time since 2009. Newark also greatly enhanced its chances of qualifying for the DIAA Division I state tournament. The Yellowjackets haven’t reached the postseason since 2007.
“Second half, we made some adjustments and the guys responded,” Newark coach Diego Ruiz said. “They knew how big it was. They knew we haven’t been in this situation in eight years.”
The Cougars appeared ready to continue their mastery of the Yellowjackets when Edgar Rossier-Estrada scored off an assist by Edgardo Gutierrez for a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
“The first half, I thought we came out very flat-footed,” Ruiz said. “We had a week off, but hats off to Delcastle. I thought they were the better team in the first half.”
Newark started to control possession in the second half, and it paid off in the 69th minute when a shot eluded Cougars goalkeeper Andres Trujillo-Cruz. As he scrambled to get back in position, the Yellowjackets’ Miguel Reyes slipped a pass to Maddyan Ata and the freshman drove it home to tie the game.
It stayed that way into the first overtime, when Trujillo-Cruz sprinted 20 yards out of his goal to snuff a breakaway before Newark’s Gimel Djan could fire. Then the Cougars generated an opportunity, only to see Rossier-Estrada shoot high from 25 yards out.
Delcastle was pressing the attack six minutes into the second OT when Newark center back Daniel Addison broke up the play to set up a counter. The ball scooted ahead to Brandon Pellegrini, who had clear sailing with half a field to go.
The senior tried to steer around Trujillo-Cruz, but the Delcastle keeper forced him wide. Pellegrini chipped the ball into the middle from a sharp angle, and a Cougars defender got a foot on it in front of the goal. But Guzman was sprinting full speed, and he pounded it home to set off a wild celebration.
“I was trying to go around him and score, but I went a little bit too far,” Pellegrini said. “So then I decided to pass the ball in the middle to my teammate Diego, and he scored a great goal.”
The Yellowjackets still have four games remaining, including a big one against third-ranked Charter of Wilmington in the regular-season finale on Nov. 5. But this was the one Newark needed most to boost its playoff chances.
“It’s amazing to win a game like this and see that all the hard work you’ve put in, the two months of preseason and all the games coming up to this finally paid off,” Pellegrini said.
Contact Brad Myers at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ