DEXTER — Just like he has done before, General Brown’s Jarod Matusiak knew right where to be when it counted most against rival South Jefferson.
After both teams had battled through a scoreless regulation, Matusiak headed in a corner kick from Eric Randall in the 84th minute as the Lions edged the Spartans, 1-0, on Friday night in a Frontier League “B” Division boys soccer game at Fisher Field.
“I knew going into overtime that I had to get it done for my team and bring the win home,” Matusiak said.
A night after General Brown secured the division title, it was pushed to the limit by South Jefferson.
“It was extra nice against these guys,” Matusiak said. “Because from modified all the way to last year, we’ve been losing to South Jeff every year. And I was sick of losing to them.”
The Lions improved to 13-1-1 on the season, including 11-0 in the league, also finishing unbeaten in the division in regular-season play, having won all four games.
Matusiak, who scored in a 3-1 win at South Jefferson on Sept. 26, is skilled on such set plays because of his previous experience as a goalie.
“I had to work for it, because since we played them last time, they were double-teaming me in the box on every corner,” Matusiak said.
Now a senior striker, Matusiak turned and headed in the feed off Randall’s corner kick with six minutes and 48 seconds left in the first sudden-death overtime period.
“I try and target him when I can and get him the ball,” Randall, a sophomore midfielder, said. “Just whatever it takes to get the job done.”
“When we first played them, I had essentially the same exact goal,” Matusiak said. “I knew that Eric can put it where I want it, and we know I crash the goalie every time on corners. So I knew I just had to put my head on it and it’s going in.”
Freshman goalkeeper Tucker Rosbrook made six saves for the Lions.
“I think we had the majority of the play in regulation, but we didn’t score until overtime,” General Brown coach Phil Jenner said. “If this was a chess match, we had more chess pieces on the board, but we couldn’t get a checkmate. We generate a lot of offense off corners and we hit a crossbar, too.”
Rosbrook’s counter part, Evan Widrick, also a freshman, finished with 11 stops for South Jefferson (8-6, 7-4).
The Lions’ win was their second within a 48-hour period as they edged Lowville, 2-1, on Thursday to clinch the “B” Division title.
“When we’re playing our rivals back to back, it’s always very difficult,” Jenner said. “To be able to go to Lowville and win there against a very good defensive team. And both teams, including South Jeff, are well coached and are very solid. We’ve won some close games this year.”
“We were tired out there, but we responded when we had to,” Randall said. “This is a good win for us.”
General Brown also won division titles in consecutive years in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, but this the first team it has been both South Jefferson and Lowville twice in one campaign.
“It felt good to be Frontier League champs, but I knew going into this game that we can’t have that be the end of it,” Matusiak said. “We’ve got to keep it going.”
The Spartans had claimed the past three “B” Division titles in the Frontier League.
“Sometimes when you have two equal challenging teams, it comes down to whose hungrier for it,” South Jefferson coach Trevor Perry said. “They’re a little older than we are, so their experience has a tendency to out will the youth of our team, and that proved to be the case right there at the end.”
Friday’s win should also help General Brown in Section 3 playoff seedings when the postseason begins later. The Lions have the opportunity to finish unbeaten in league play for the first time when they host Beaver River at 10 a.m. next Saturday.
“We’re so excited and I’m excited, because they’ve earned it, they’ve worked their butts off,” Jenner said of the Spartans, who also won their first-ever game against Watertown, 2-0, on Sept. 18. “All teams work hard, but we’re executing and we’re making plays.”