Montville has many new faces on offense

Montville has many new faces on offense

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Montville has many new faces on offense

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The Montville boys lacrosse team isn’t going to settle for anything less than titles and championships this season.

The Mustangs finished last season at 16-5 and tied with Sparta for second in the Rizk Division behind Glen Rock. Montville had the No. 6 seed in the Morris County Tournament and fell to Mountain Lakes in the quarterfinals. In the Group III Tournament, Montville also drew the No. 6 seed and advanced to the second round before falling to Millburn. This season, the goal is simple: win.

“It’s a new group of guys that we have, some new guys stepping up, so we’re kind of young but we’re balanced and I think we’re coming together pretty well,” coach Rick DeBonta said. “They’re working hard, I think it’s the hardest working team I’ve had in the preseason so far so I’m excited about that.”

The Mustangs lost a good dose of their scoring power last year with the graduation of attacks Ryan O’Lear and Brian McCormick and midfielders Raf Correa and Kevin Wolfson, but the team is looking to bounce back from those losses with players who have stepped up to fill those roles.

According to senior defender and captain John Jespersen, the entire starting defense is back for the Mustangs and has looked strong during the preseason. Senior goalie and captain Greg Tutone split time in goal last season with Ben Laub and out of the 16 wins the team had, he was responsible for eight of them. Tutone made 139 saves out of 213 shots on goal for a 65 percent save percentage.

There are only 10 returning players from last season and only five are offensive players, which means the rest of the offense is comprised of newcomers. Senior attack and captain Jake Haimson is one of the returning players and he led the team last year with 78 goals and 21 assists. Haimson scored his 100th career goal last year and will be one the team looks to lead the offense.

“Throughout the preseason we’ve had great chemistry and I think we’re going to have a very successful year,” Haimson said. “I think the coaches conditioned us real well, and if there’s anything we need to work on it’s getting pumped up before the games. Enthusiasm is our main thing, we have to get excited.”

Along with Tutone, Jespersen and Haimson, senior defender and captain Austin Strickland is the Mustangs’ main stay down low on defense and those four players will need to set the tone for the team this season. There are also a few newcomers that DeBonta believes will be major contributors this year. Sophomore Brendan Kelly was the pleasant surprise of the preseason and worked his way into a starting attack position. Junior attack Tyler Chin has also worked his way into the starting lineup, and if the team can keep the chemistry humming, Montville can accomplish big things.

“We’re looking good, we’re just looking to improve every week on what we’re doing and just keep getting better,” Jespersen said. “We want to (go far in) counties, hopefully win our division and go to states. I think we’re capable of accomplishing all of that. Every week we get better, every scrimmage, every practice we get better.”

Montville’s first week of the season will determine the tone for the rest of the spring. The Mustangs open the season on Tuesday against Sparta at home, then have games against Glen Rock and Caldwell. The Mustangs will also be looking to hang tough against Morris County powerhouses Delbarton and Mountain Lakes.

“We’re just looking forward to the first game and playing,” Jespersen said. “We’re excited just to get out and play finally.”

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