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Delbarton's Tyler Bell (left), who had the big overtime goal in Morris County Tournament semifinal victory vs. Morrisown, here goes airborne vs. Chatham during teams' recent regular-season match won by the Cougars as long Green Wave unbeaten streak came to end. (Photos by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)

Delbarton's Andrew Ford (left) gets tangled up with his Chatham opponent

Delbarton's Jack Badenhausen (4) grimmaces after heading ball vs. Chatham

Defending Champion Delbarton Set For MCT Final Vs. Madison
…A Look At Morris Soccer Scene Heading Into MCT Final

By Sean Reilly
For sidelinechatter.com

It's time for the final match of the Morris County Tournament, and once again Delbarton has advanced to the big game. 

The top-seeded Green Wave (14-1-1) will play seventh-seeded Madison (11-4) for the title on Saturday night at 7:30 at Roxbury High. 

Even though Delbarton will be in the final for the 10th time in the past 13 years, its record is 4-4-1 in those prior title games. Its road to this year's final has been particularly tough, with a 1-0 win over 16th-seeded Parsippany in the first round, a penalty kick shootout decision over ninth-seeded Randolph in the quarterfinals following a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 overtime triumph over fifth-seeded Morristown last Sunday in the semifinals. 

The Morristown win was especially pleasing for Delbarton coach David Donovan, since it came in the team's first outing since a 2-1 overtime defeat at Chatham on Friday, a result that ended Delbarton's 33-0-2 unbeaten streak that dated back to early last year. 

So far this season, the Green Wave has seen the end of a long scoreless streak, a winning streak and now an unbeaten streak. Along the way, it also fell behind in a game for the first time in over a year. 

Against Morristown, the Green Wave weren't weighed down by any of those things and could just play soccer. 

"You can tell your team that you believe in them, but the players have to believe in themselves," said Donovan in the aftermath of the Morristown win, in which Tyler Bell scored on a 30-yard blast with just over three minutes left in the first OT. 

Bell, who also scored Delbarton's first goal on a penalty kick in the first half, is ready for his team's return to the county final. 

"It would be great to be able to win it two years in a row," he said. 

Delbarton has won the MCT title six times, but has only won the championship game in consecutive years in 2002 and '03. (The Green Wave also tied Morris Catholic in the 2004 final). 

Madison won its only MCT outright title in 1982. It played a scoreless tie against Chatham Township in the 1980 final, but officially lost on the total corner kick tiebreaker used back then. Madison also shared the title after a 0-0 tie against Montville in 2009. 

The Dodgers are under the direction of first-year head coach Erik Studnicky, which makes Madison the first team to reach the final under a new coach since Chatham was runner-up to Morris Catholic in 2001 under Bohdan Shashkewych. 

Delbarton and Madison are the only teams in Morris County to have not been shut out this season. 

Delbarton will have to shut down Jon Miller, who has emerged in recent weeks as a clutch goal-scorer for Madison. He's scored the game-winner in the Dodgers' MCT wins over second-seeded Mount Olive in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Kinnelon last Sunday in the semifinals, and he did it again in a 2-1 regular-season triumph at Somerville on Tuesday. 

BIG MOMENT FOR CHATHAM

One of the most overlooked results in the Morris County Tournament may have occurred in the first round. 

In a game played on Oct. 5, eighth-seeded Chatham and ninth-seeded Randolph played to a 1-1 tie, with Randolph advancing after it survived a penalty kick shootout. 

The result knocked Chatham out of the tournament, and in doing so, kept arguably the hottest team in the county over the past month away from the rest of the field. 

If Chatham had gotten past Randolph that day, it would have faced top-seeded Delbarton in the quarterfinals (Delbarton wound up beating Randolph in a PK shootout after a 1-1 tie through 100 minutes of play). 

Chatham was going to play Delbarton two more times anyway -- last Friday at Chatham and on Oct. 30 at Delbarton -- in Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference-United Division games. 

The Cougars made that first meeting against the Green Wave a memorable one, as Brian Graham scored in the second overtime for a 2-1 victory that snapped Delbarton's 33-0-2 unbeaten streak that dated back to the second game of the 2013 season. 

Chatham is in the midst of an impressive streak of its own. A 3-1 win at Morris Knolls on Tuesday improved the Cougars to 10-2-1, with the only losses coming against Morristown, 2-1, on Sept. 18 and Mount Olive, 2-0, on Sept. 20. 

AROUND MORRIS

Madison had to forfeit its 3-1 victory over Hanover Park on Oct. 14 because an ineligible reserve player started the Senior Night game. The loss won't change the Dodgers' standing as the expected No. 1 seed when the pairings are released next week for the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 tournament. ... Montville (3-13-1) has won two of its last three games. Ethan Grossman scored once in a 2-1 win over Pope John last Wednesday and added two more goals in a 3-2 triumph over Parsippany Hills on Tuesday. ... Whippany Park (9-4-2) is riding a season-high four-game winning streak. Mike Symecko has scored at least once in each of those games. 

SIDELINE CHATTER MORRIS COUNTY TOP 10

(Records through Wednesday, Oct. 22)

 

1-Delbarton                  (14-1-1)         Last week: 1

 

2-Madison                    (11-4)           LW: 2

 

3-Chatham                   (10-2-1)        LW: 7

 

4-Kinnelon                   (12-2-2)        LW: 3

 

5-Morristown                (12-5)           LW: 4

 

6-Mount Olive               (15-3)           LW: 5

 

7-Randolph                  (8-3-3)           LW:6

 

8-Morris Knolls             (7-6-2)          LW: 9

 

9-Pequannock              (10-5)           LW: 10

 

10-Roxbury                  (7-8)             LW: NR

 

 

NORTHWEST JERSEY ATHLETIC CONFERENCE STANDINGS

(Records through Wednesday, Oct. 22)

 

NATIONAL DIVISION

 

Randolph                5-1-0

 

Roxbury                 4-2-0

 

Parsippany Hills      3-3-1

 

West Morris            2-5-0

 

Morris Knolls          1-4-1

 

 

UNITED DIVISION

 

Delbarton               5-1-0 

 

Chatham                4-1-0

 

Morristown             4-2-0

 

Mendham               2-5-0

 

Montville                0-6-0

 

 

AMERICAN DIVISION

 

X- Mount Olive           7-0-0 

 

Vernon                      3-2-0

 

Sparta                      2-3-0

 

Pope John                1-4-0

 

Morris Hills               1-5-0

 

X-clinched division championship

 

 

FREEDOM DIVISION

 

X-Hackettstown          6-0-0 

 

High Point                 4-2-1

 

Lenape Valley            3-3-1

 

Jefferson                    2-4-0

 

Sussex Tech              0-6-0

 

X-clinched division championship 

 

 

LIBERTY DIVISION

 

Morristown-Beard           6-2-0

 

Dover                            4-3-0

 

Parsippany                    4-3-0

 

Madison                        3-3-0

 

Mountain Lakes             3-5-0

 

Hanpver Park                 2-6-0

 

 

INDEPENDENCE DIVISION

 

Kinnelon                       7-0-1

 

Pequannock                  6-1-0

 

Whippany Park             5-1-1

 

Morris Catholic             2-6-1

 

Butler                          2-6-0

 

Boonton                       0-8-1

 

 

GAMES TO WATCH

 

Saturday:

 

Morris County Tournament final at Roxbury:

 

Delbarton vs Madison, 7:30

 

Monday:

 

Dover at Parsippany, 4

 

Kinnelon at Whippany Park, 4

 

Tuesday:

 

Morristown at Mendham, 4

 

Roxbury at Morris Knolls, 4 

 

Follow Sean Reilly on Twitter @SeanReillyHS

 

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