Panthers hold off Spartans to win county championship

Oct. 26—The Hibriten boys soccer team battled South Caldwell in the county championship game at Hibriten High School Monday night.

The game went into a second overtime period as the Panthers earned a 3-2 victory to end the regular season with a 16-3-3 overall record and a 9-1 record in Northwestern 3A/4A Conference play.

South Caldwell will finish its season with a 4-12-3 overall record and a 1-8-1 record in the conference.

Hibriten struck first when junior forward Faris Cerratto found the back of the net with 34:38 remaining in the first half.

Panther senior midfielder Tyler Roberts scored Hibriten's second goal with 6:33 left in the first half to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead at halftime.

South Caldwell got on the board early in the second half thanks to a goal from sophomore forward Anthony Carnevale with 35:43 left on the clock.

The Spartans then tied the game with 17:59 left in the second half off a goal from senior forward Axcel Villabolos.

Both teams could not find the back of the net in the first overtime period, but senior Tyler Roberts found it with 7:18 remaining in the second overtime to give Hibriten a 3-2 lead.

South Caldwell earned a penalty kick late in the second overtime, but Hibriten senior goalkeeper Kenyen Ferguson blocked senior Caden Pilat's shot.

Both teams had shots on goal in the final two minutes of the game, with neither capitalizing on their chances as the Panthers held on to win 3-2.

Hibriten head coach Jim Blanton said the Panthers battled through injuries to win the game.

"We're beat up and banged up. We've lost two really good starters. Johnny Pineda is day-to-day, and Eric Meza is done with a torn muscle. Blanton said. "In a 20-some game season, if you're not beat up and banged up, it means you haven't been playing."

South Caldwell head coach Rick Pilatto said he was proud of the Spartans' effort throughout the game.

"It was a hard-fought match with both teams having opportunities in the first half and Hibriten finishing with two set pieces. We fought out of that hole in the second half, tying the game up with goals from Anthony Carnevale and Axel Villalobos," Pilatto said. "Hibriten was able to score in the second overtime period, and the rest of the game was a back-and-forth affair with opportunities by each team.

"Hibriten is a quality side and should be commended for their play. We wish them much success in the playoffs."