It was just like he practiced, just like he envisioned moments before, when he squatted next to the net, head down, blocking out a stadium of screaming fans.
"I was just trying to focus. I just wanted to go for it," said Griffin Rogers, the junior keeper who saved two of four penalty kicks, including a dive to his right to knock away the first shot he saw. His effort helped capture the Group 1 state boys' soccer championship for Glassboro over New Providence on Saturday afternoon at Kean University.
The game — scoreless through regulation and two overtimes before the Bulldogs prevailed 4-2 in penalty kicks — marked the first state title for the Glassboro boys' soccer team. It was also vindication for last year's state championship, when Glassboro fell to Pompton Lakes following a controversial call in overtime that set up the winning goal off a direct kick from from 18 yards out.
"After the unfortunate result of last year — I think we got robbed — it was our goal to get back here," said Rogers, still with tears of joy streaming down his face. "We wanted this so bad. That's the biggest reason we're here right now."
The result sealed the rare postseason clean sheet for Glassboro. The Bulldogs (21-2-3) did not allow a goal in six postseason games.
"It's unbelievable" said Glassboro coach Mark Bridges. "No matter who was in the game for us on defense, they played great all year."
Bridges said he didn't think his team played its best game.
There were stretches of sloppy play for both teams, and both had numerous chances and near misses throughout the game.
"It wasn't our best game," Bridges said. "But we battled."
Glassboro did not miss a penalty kick, including Luke Archibald's winner on the team's fourth try.
"Walking up to that PK after seeing our goalie save his, it got me that much more hyped up to take mine," Archibald said.
Conversely, New Providence (15-9) seemed to feel the pressure. The players appeared tight after Rogers' first save.
"Once he saves that first one," Bridges said. "It's in their heads."
It wasn't Rogers' only heroic moment in the game. He saved eight shots before the PKs, several at point-blank range, underscoring the heart with which his team played throughout this season.
Most agreed, on sheer talent, Glassboro was lacking a bit compared to last year's state runner-up
"We thought we had a chance at a state championship this year," Bridges said. "We didn't think we were quite as good as we were last year, but these kids proved me wrong."
Glassboro 0 0 0 0 (4) — 0
New Providence 0 0 0 0 (2) — 0