The Rumson-Fair Haven boys lacrosse team fell short in its quest for its first Group I title Wednesday night, as it was defeated by Mountain Lakes 8-6.
“We knew we could play with them, we knew we could score, we were right where we wanted to be, right where we wanted to be right until the last two minutes of the game,” Rumson coach Reed Jackson said. “They really did a great job on the midfield on the faceoffs, they controlled that a lot, if you don’t have the ball, you can’t score. It was tough, they’re a very good team.”
The Lakers, the top-seed in North Group I, took a 6-5 lead with 8:47 to go in the fourth quarter. Rumson, the No. 1 seed in South Group I, tied the game at 6 with 6:06 to play on a goal by junior attack Dominic Padula.
The excitement was short-lived though, as Mountain Lakes retook the lead, 7-6 with 5:02 to play on a goal by junior midfielder Zach Lesko. The Lakers sealed the win with 1:24 left when senior attack Spencer Herman scored on an assist from Lesko for the 8-6 final.
The Bulldogs (18-3) and Lakers (16-5) went back and forth throughout the first half and the game was tied at 2 at halftime. Junior midfielder Chris Hubler had both of Rumson’s goals in the first half.
With 5:31 to play in the third quarter, Rumson took a 3-2 lead on a goal from Padula, and less than a minute later had a 4-2 lead thanks to a goal from junior attack Colin Shea. But Mountain Lakes answered back with two straight goals to tie the game at 4 with 2:56 left in the quarter.
Senior attack Michael Clarke scored with 1:08 left to give the Bulldogs a 5-4 lead at the end of three quarters. The Lakers tied the game at 5 a minute into the fourth quarter.
The Lakers had a 26-16 advantage in ground balls and won 12 faceoffs compared to the Bulldogs’ six. Senior goalie Dylan Rotchford made 14 saves while senior Jared Bernstein made nine saves for the Lakers.
“The kids put so much into it, we were so close and we knew it would come down to the little things and it did,” Jackson said. “My hat’s off to Mountain Lakes, they put pressure on us like we’ve never seen this year and we knew that was coming, we struggled with it a little bit. They shut off two guys instead of one guy, what are you going to do? Tim Flynn and his team are good.”
This was Rumson’s first appearance in a Group I final. The Bulldogs fell in the semifinals last season. Mountain Lakes won its 10th overall title and first since 2008.