The Jackson Memorial boys lacrosse team ended two years of frustration against Rumson-Fair Haven on Monday afternoon.
The No. 4 ranked Jaguars were able to put two devastating losses to top-ranked Rumson-Fair Haven in the past two Shore Conference Tournament finals behind them with a strong second half that vaulted them to an 8-6 nondivisional victory over the two-time defending Shore Conference Tournament champion.
“We lost a ton of players from last year’s team and some great players too. But the thing is, we know we still have a lot of great players and when we play together, we are on,” Jackson Memorial senior defender Pat Duggan said. “We love that we have that underdog mentality and everybody counts us out and the less people talk about us the better for us. I’ll take that all year.”
The victory was special for a few reasons for the Jaguars (3-0).
First, they defeated Rumson-Fair Haven for the first time in school history. Second, senior attackman Evan Farrar reached a personal milestone while helping the Jaguars upset the Bulldogs (1-1).
“In the first half, I went scoreless. I guess nerves kind of got to me being that I was one away from 100 career goals. Once I put the first goal in, I just totally chilled out and Mike Balsamo did a good job putting us up by two goals in the first quarter,” said Farrar who scored three goals to reach 102 career goals. “Really, we just fed off each other’s energy. Kids were just flying around the field and once we clicked like that, there was no beating us.”
The Jaguars only trailed once in the game.
They jumped out to a 2-0 first quarter lead via two goals by senior attackman Mike Balsamo. Rumson-Fair Haven came roaring back by shutting out Jackson Memorial in the second quarter meanwhile scoring three goals to take a 3-2 lead at halftime.
Junior attackman Dominic Padula, senior attackman Michael Clarke and junior midfielder Chris Hubler each had a goal in the second quarter.
“Personally, I know every team wants to take us out. Because when I came here, we wanted to take out every team. The team knows it and it comes with the territory and only one team is allowed on top,” Rumson-Fair Haven coach Reid Jackson said. “I just think this was a wake up call. Everybody is getting better. Everybody has talent and nobody is going away. This is a good thing for the Shore Conference, no doubt about it.”
The Jaguars took over the game for good in the third quarter when they outscored the Bulldogs, 4-0, to take a 6-3 lead after three quarters. Farrar got the first of his three goals with 10:10 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 3-3 and senior midfielder Mike Specht gave the Jaguars the lead for good with his unassisted goal from the right side of the field with 5:09 left in the third quarter. Sophomore attackman Troy Wolf and senior attackman Corey Chadwick added the third and fourth goals with 4:11 and 3:44 left, respectively, in the third quarter.
“This is the new rivalry — Jackson Memorial versus Rumson-Fair Haven. The boys told me coming into the season, that this was the game,” Jackson Memorial coach James Buchannan said. “They’ve never beaten them before and you know what, we worked our butts off and we executed our plan.”
“In the third quarter, they went on that run and for whatever reason our team has a problem possessing the ball,” Jackson said. “Our players get a little window of a shot and they take it as opposed to let’s work it. Where other teams really work it for a good shot.”
Jackson Memorial outshot, Rumson-Fair Haven, 27-16, with 11 of the shots coming in the first quarter.
Overall, Farrar’s three goals led the Jaguars while Balsamo added two goals and Specht and Wolf each added one goal and two assists. Chadwick added one goal and one assist and junior Cody Weisel made seven saves.
Clarke led Rumson-Fair Haven with two goals and he also finished with one assist. Padula, Hubler and junior defender Connor Phillips each had one goal and senior Dylan Rotchford made 10 saves.