David Nigro and FC Motown celebrate another big win. (Photo courtesy of FC Motown)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

MADISON, N.J. — When he returns to work as a sales specialist at Plymouth Rock Assurance Monday morning, David Nigro might be asked what he did this past weekend.

He might not necessarily be believed by everyone when he answers that he scored the winning goal for his soccer team in a national semifinal match Wednesday.

Sounds like a made-up tale, doesn’t it?

Believe it. Nigro did score, recording the biggest goal of his career on a point-blank header of second extratime, stoppage time to boost FC Motown to a 2-1 semifinal victory over FC Mulhouse Portland in the National Premier Soccer League semifinals at Drew University.

“We battled until the very last minute,” Nigro said during a parking lot interview in the dark outside Ranger Stadium. “We gave everything we had.

Asked what this win meant to the team: “I think its just everything. We really came from a co-ed team from the start. to be where we’re at right now, playing in a national final is something that a lot of teams don’t get the privilege to do. And it’s just really a testament to the owners, Sacir [Hot], who’s the coach. The hearts are in and we definitely want to win.”

A former Monmouth University captain and standout, the 23-year-old midfielder did not have much time to perform his heroics as he came on for an injured Walter Calderon in the 112th minute. But he found a way.

“Definitely making a lot of runs,” Nigro said, adding that he “had fresh legs, which was definitely good. Was able to get up for the ball and win it there.”

Added Hot: “Dave has been such a good teammate and player for us. Whenever his number is called, he knows exactly what to do. He gives it all whenever he steps on the field. Dave has been phenomenal for us, such a team player. It’s great having guys like that.”

Indeed.

In the first minute of injury time, Nelson Becerra started the winning sequence with a through ball to Lucas Terci on the right flank. Terci crossed the ball into the middle to Nigro, who headed the ball past the Scott Dalrymple, FCM Portland’s outstanding goalkeeper.

“We were able to luckily pick one in the corner, not even near him, snuck one by him,” said Nigro, who said that Terci a ball in, “an inch perfect. It was there for the taking.”

And the 6-2 185-lb. Nigro took it.

In the 90th minute against West Chester United of the Keystone Conference semifinal July 7, Nigro flicked the ball to Terci, who connected for the equalizer before the team prevailed in penalty kicks to move on.

“So he played this one to me and I finished it for him,” he said. “I returned the favor, which was an awesome feeling for sure.”

Several minutes later, the final whistle sounded, and FC Motown had booked its spot in the final.

When Dilly Duka broke the ice with his 55th-minute goal, many observers felt the hosts were going to add to their lead. But Portland equalized within 10 minutes.

“In games like that, it’s definitely tough, especially when you’re really dominating the game and you have all the chances,” Nigro said. “If it’s not coming early, the more the game lingers on you start to worry they might get a counter and get a goal, which is how they scored their one goal. I think we really just buckled down and gave everything we had until the last minute and were able to come out with the result.”

Dalrymple was a major reason why, making FC Motown sweat as he denied just about every attacker the hosts threw at Portland.

“Outstanding. He was outstanding,” Nigro said. “He made some crazy saves.”

Just as Marlboro, N.J. native said that, Hot hugged his midfielder from behind. “Love him!” Hot said.

Nigro then continued.

“He made some outrageous saves,” he said. “On the bench we thought the ball was in for sure, just somehow he kept it out of the net. We were able to luckily pick one in the corner, not even near him, snuck one by him.”

Nigro’s 11th-hour heroics capped off a memorable week for himself and older brother Matt, who was named to the NPSL National XI as a midfielder Friday.

“But I get the man of the match for the night, which would be nice,” David said.

“He’s a guy who works his tail off. He definitely deserves it. Sometimes he maybe doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. It’s time that he got some accolades for himself, which is nice. He definitely works his socks off, game in and game and game out, whether it is stretching or doing fitness or training on his own. He puts in the extra hours. It’s good for him to finally get some recognition for it.”

On Monday morning Nigro will go to the Plymouth Rock office and continue his 9 to 5 job at Plymouth rock.

“Still trying to play when I can, so it’s tough not being able to play in an office all day,” he said.” It’s nice to go out and get some games in and get a goal under my belt.”

Nigor hoped that he, Matt and FC Motown can make it a hat-trick against Miami FC 2 in the NPSL final at Drew Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“I think we’re up for it,” he said. “I think the guys are definitely up for it. We battled and battled all season long. I just really think it’s going to be a great game. They’re a talented team, made it to the finals, got a deep history as well.”

Nigro and FC Motown would love to make their own history as well.