MIDDLETOWN - Buzzer-beating goals are not commonplace in soccer but it's not often the ball bounces right to a player who can do what Danny Minze did with the final seconds ticking away Monday night.

The Middletown South senior one-timed a volley out of the air and into Middletown South-Middletown North rivalry lore.

Minze struck for the game-winner from the top of the 18-yard box with the game clock reading 0.1 seconds and the Eagles stunned rival Middletown North - ranked No. 9 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - in the most dramatic of fashion, 2-1.

"My heart is beating a thousand miles-a-minute right now," Minze said after the goal. "It's just an incredible feeling."

Middletown North junior goalkeeper Alex Bogues made the last two of his 11 saves just seconds before the deciding goal, denying senior Matt Cozzi on a long shot and senior Tyler Jerome on a follow-up.

Bogues that punched the ensuing corner kick away from the goal but was just far enough off his line to leave a sliver of daylight open. The ball bounced right to Minze, who lined up a shot, hit it out of the air, over the reach of Bogues, under the crossbar and into the net for the dramatic finish.

"I thought it was over at that point so I just took it and hoped for the best," Minze said. "I had no idea how much time was on the clock. I saw it go in and I just ran to our fans. The atmosphere was incredible today. You don't usually get that many people out for a soccer game so it was it was just an incredible experience."

"The guys just kept pushing and pushing and all of a sudden, the ball ends up with our best player with a second or two left," Middletown South coach Rob Grella said. "I always tell our kids, 'It's great when your best player makes a play,' and that's what happened tonight."

Bogues's second-half effort was nearly enough to carry the Lions into overtime. He made eight of his saves after halftime as Middletown South outshot Middletown North, 17-3, in the second half and 23-8 for the game.

Middletown South broke through first, beating Bogues on an own goal in the 45th. Eagles junior Matt Glynn turned the corner and smacked a cross to the middle of the six-yard box, where it hit a Lions defender and bounded into the goal.

Junior Aidan Cardella quickly answered for Middletown North, burying a left-footed strike to the right corner of the goal in the 48th after a lay-off from junior Alex Perez.

"They had us on our heels a little bit in the first half and after we finally scored, we let them back in it," Minze said. "We had to just settle down, play our game and keep trying to put the pressure on them."

From there, Bogues delivered save after save, including a diving stop of a shot by senior Alex Sigua in the 75th to momentarily keep the score 1-1.

Each team had a close call in the scoreless first half, with Middletown North hitting the right post and Bogues saving a breakaway.

Middletown South opened the season 1-3 with losses to No. 1 Holmdel, No. 2 Marlboro and No. 9 Freehold Township and have since gone 4-0-1 with a scoreless draw vs. No. 4 Christian Brothers Academy. Monday's win was the Eagles's first against a team that currently has a winning record.

"These guys have shown over the last three years that they can pick themselves up after a loss," Grella said. "We had some tough stretches last year that we were ultimately able to come back from and finish pretty strong so I think they were ready for the challenge this year."

"We're starting to play better soccer," Minze said. "We had a rough patch in the beginning but we're playing our game right now. We're trying to go on one last ride."

 

Box Score

Middletown South 2, Middletown North 1

12F
Midd South (5-3-1)022
Midd North (6-3)011

Goals (Assists): (MS) Own goal 45', Danny Minze 80'; (MN) Aidan Cardella (Alex Perez) 48'
Shots: Middletown South, 23-8
Saves: (MS) Austin Carter 5; (MN) Alex Bogues 11

 

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