NHIAA Soccer: Rizzitano's goal lifts Generals past Grizzlies
By ERIC EMMERLING Special to the Union Leader
GOFFSTOWN — Verbalizing an opinion shared by players from both teams, John Stark of Weare’s Jonathan Rizzitano believed luck switched sides in his squad’s 2-1 double overtime win over rival Goffstown.
The forward, who netted the sudden-victory goal in the 95th minute of play, had been denied three times in the first overtime, a 10-minute period that will be recalled as the battle of keepers in Route 114 rivalry folklore.
“I thought he was the luckiest guy in the world on the three opportunities I couldn’t quite get to go in,” said Rizzitano, referring to Goffstown keeper Tyler Santoro (nine saves) who stopped three point-blank shots of Rizzitano during a three-minute span.
Santoro dove right and fully extended his body to make a fingertip save on one shot and then leaped to tip another chance over the crossbar before blocking a third shot off his chest.
Goffstown quickly retaliated with three scoring chances from Nick Mason — who hit the post on a breakaway chance in the 65th minute — forcing John Stark keeper Chase Patterson (nine saves) to make two diving saves and slide to curl around another potential game-winner in the first overtime.
“But, to be fair, I got kind of lucky, too, on my goal in what was a very memorable game,” said Rizzitano as his club improved to 8-3-1. The Generals also tied Lebanon this week.
“I told the team heading into the overtime that the game will either end on a great play or a mistake and the goal was a little bit of both,” said Goffstown coach Randy Lovering after watching the defending Division II champs’ record drop to 5-7-1.
Evan Caswell booted a shot toward the weak-side post. The shot was deflected and looked to be heading a bit wide. Rizzitano beat his mark to the post and tipped the ball just inside.
“I thought both teams competed really hard,” said Goffstown co-captain Mike Fortin. “John Stark’s higher in the standings than we are, but we played like a high-caliber team today, matching them play for play. I think we were a little unlucky in the end.”
The Grizzlies dominated play in the first half. Fortin, Nick Mason, Ryan Cook and co-captain Noah Charron played forward with abandon, weaving one scoring strike after another. Fortin scored in the 14th minute, on a header, on a cross from Charron.
“(Patterson) later told me he thought it was too high,” said Fortin. The ball was high but a hard-downward spin sent it just under the crossbar.
John Stark tied the game at 49:30 on a corner kick chance served up by Caswell and sent to Rizzitano at the near post. He clanked the shot but Patrick Kalob finished the chance.
“I was unlucky then, but the goal got us going and switched the momentum,” said Rizzitano.