Absegami High School’s Mach Jackson, left, fights for control of the ball with Cherokee’s Dotan Argano during their playoff game Monday in Galloway Township.

Press photo by Dave Griffin

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Sean Milligan's goal Monday was different from the first 18 he scored this season.

Milligan's double-overtime goal was the first he scored all season with his right foot.

It was also the first goal Milligan scored this season that resulted in knocking a two-time defending South Jersey and state Group IV champion out of the postseason.

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Milligan took a pass from Carlos Galeano and beat goalkeeper Anthony Cutillo with a well-placed right foot as top-seeded Absegami beat Cherokee 1-0 in a S.J. Group IV quarterfinal game.

"It's a great feeling," Milligan said. "I use my left foot a lot, so it was good to score with the opposite foot.

"I was happy with the strike. A win is a win."

Absegami started the day ranked seventh in The Press Elite 11 and moved up to No. 6 with its victory. Cherokee fell from eighth to 11th. The Braves advanced to host No. 13 seed Cherry Hill East in the semifinals on a date yet to be determined. Cherry Hill East is the No. 1 team in the Elite 11.

Cherokee knocked Absegami out of the playoffs last season en route to its second straight sectional and state titles.

"They're a great team, but we needed payback from last year," Milligan said. "We wanted this win."

Galeano hit a through ball to set up the goal 2 minutes, 7 seconds into the second 10-minute overtime.

"When I looked up, I saw Milligan running down. I hit it one-touch and he finished it," Galeano said. "It feels great, especially since it's payback for last year when they beat us. We went to their house and they beat us. For them to come to our house and us beat them is a great feeling."

Absegami goalkeeper Matt McCormick made sure the game went to overtime with an acrobatic save in the final minute of regulation.

Cherokee took a page out of Andy Reid's playbook by having a player lay down on the far side of the field during a corner.

When the corner kick came across the goal, the player quickly stood up and somehow managed to put a shot with top-spin onto the frame.

McCormick laid out to his left and managed to clear the shot as he collided with the goalpost.

"I saw the ball coming in (on the corner)," McCormick said. "I looked up and saw the kid wide open. He mis-hit it a little, but it was still a good shot. I just knew it was on net and I had to make the save.

"I didn't even feel (the post). I made the save and heard everyone cheering. Everyone asked me if I was all right. I didn't even know I hit the post. I just knew I made the save. I was getting to that one no matter what."

McCormick made six saves - including two diving saves on blasts from inside 20 yards during the first half - for his 12th shutout of the year. His 18 wins and 12 shutouts are each single-season school records.

The Braves improved to 18-2-1 this season. The team wins set a school record. The Braves won 17 games in 1981 and again in 2005.

McCormick was a backup and watched from the sideline last season as Cherokee ended Absegami's season.

"I remember how sad everybody was with all the seniors," McCormick said. "There was tears and I didn't want that for this team. I didn't think we deserved that."

Contact John O'Kane:


Cherokee 0 0 (0) (0)-0

Absegami 0 0 (0) (1)-1

Goals-Milligan A.

Goalies-Cutillo (6) C; McCormick (6) A.

Records-Cherokee 11-7-4; Absegami 18-2-1.

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