Freehold Township boys lacrosse coach Mike Ferrando wanted to know where his team stood amongst the elite teams in the Shore Conference and Monday’s nondivisional game against Manasquan provided Ferrando with the perfect test.
After letting No. 8 Manasquan score the first goal of the game, No. 6 Freehold Township scored three straight goals to end the first quarter and the Patriots never relinquished the lead en route to an 11-8 victory.
“You play different opponents and you don’t really know where you stand sometimes and we haven’t played a tough game since the CBA game. We know Manasquan is tough and their three losses (before the game) came to Jackson Memorial, Rumson-Fair Haven and Holmdel. Three very good teams,” Ferrando said. “I told our guys that you are that good and you’re one of those good teams and this is going to be your test and we showed up and played the game that we wanted.”
Senior attackman Dan Bloodgood led the way with four goals and two assists. Bloodgood had both of his assists in the first quarter and scored two of his four goals in the third quarter. He also had one goal in the second and fourth quarters.
Freehold Township (9-1) stretched the lead to 5-1 early in the second quarter when sophomore midfielder Billy Sasso and Bloodgood scored with 11:13 and 8:36 left in the second quarter, respectively.
“That’s what makes coaching at Manasquan so enjoyable, I don’t ever have to worry that the kids are ever going to give up. We have some players that are playing as seniors but for the first time in a couple of years,” Manasquan coach Nick Schmidt said. “These situations and these tight games, it is the first experience for them and eventually we are going to have to play four quarters worth of good, solid, efficient, flawless lacrosse. Even if it is one time, we’re going to have to do it and we’re hoping it is deep in the Shore Conference Tournament.”
The Warriors (7-4) mounted an impressive comeback attempt in the third quarter.
After Bloodgood scored his third goal to increase Freehold Township’s lead to 9-4 with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, it became the Joe Murphy show for a two-minute and 15 second span.
Murphy scored three consecutive unassisted goals in the third quarter with 3:42, 2:06 and 1:27 left to cut Freehold Township’s lead to 9-7.
“Joe Murphy was awesome. He’s a very good player and a very strong kid. He’s only a junior which is very scary but we knew he was going to be a problem,” Ferrando said. “We locked him off at the end and fortunately for us he didn’t get any more shots off after that.”
The Patriots took a 10-7 lead into the fourth quarter after senior midfielder Luke Messina answered the Murphy run with a goal with 8.1 seconds left in the third quarter.
After the teams combined for 10 goals in the third quarter each team only scored one in the fourth quarter as Manasquan junior attackman Blaine Birch scored with 7:33 left to make it 10-8 and Freehold Township’s Bloodgood finished off his impressive game with a goal with 5:02 left.
“We changed our defense in the fourth quarter and we went to the zone. I think they called a timeout to adjust to our man-to-man defense and we came out in a zone and they didn’t know what to do with it,” Ferrando said. “You saw for the last minute they had the ball and kept passing the ball around and they didn’t find a shot. I’m very happy about that for our defense.”
Besides Bloodgood, junior attackman Stephen O’Brien contributed two goals and one assist and senior midfielder Sean Koubek added one goal and two assists. Goalie Todd Bitsko made 10 saves.
As for Manasquan, Murphy steered the offense with assistance from senior midfielder J.D. Kuper (two goals) and Birch (one goal). Freshman goalie Jack Farrell made eight saves.
“We need to do a better job with the faceoffs. Their guy did a phenomenal job and give credit to Freehold Township they are a very good team. There were situations where we just broke down,” Schmidt said. “We have to do a better job with our team defense to make up for those situations. We had some clearing problems but credit Freehold Township for causing some of those problems.”