The early deficit didn’t faze the Ridge High School boys lacrosse team.
According to coach Ken Marsh, it was a familiar scenario that the Red Devils have faced more than once this season.
After spotting Southern Regional a first-quarter goal in the NJSIAA Group IV final, Ridge ran off four straight goals to start the second quarter, and that was just the beginning of a dominating performance by the Red Devils in a 12-4 victory on Wednesday night at Somerville High School.
“We were behind in the sectional quarterfinals against Bridgewater-Raritan, down 5-4 at halftime and Westfield was a tight game for a while, too. But with the conference and the schedule that we play, we are used to being down and we are used to battling back,” Marsh said. “We know it is a 48-minute game and we have to play it that way.”
While Southern controlled play for the first 12 minutes, Ridge dominated the final 36 minutes and the Red Devils had a game-breaking seven-goal run between the third and fourth quarters turning a relatively competitive game into a blowout.
“All year, we’ve had the ability to score in bunches and we did that today at times and that opened the game up and deflated Southern a bit with our quick scoring,” Marsh said.
Ridge senior midfielder Eric Scott had four goals and one assist to lead the Red Devils and Scott scored two goals during a powerful five-goal third quarter as Ridge’s 5-2 halftime lead expanded to a 10-2 lead after three quarters.
Southern did score the first goal of the game when senior midfielder Al Manzo scored with 45.8 seconds left in the first quarter and then Ridge scored five of the next six goals to earn that 5-2 halftime lead.
In addition to Scott, Ridge junior attackman Owen Molly and junior midfielder Alex Gaydos each had two goals and one assist and junior attackman J.T. Palladino added one goal and one assist and senior goalie TJ Jones made six saves.
While Manzo got Southern on the board in the first quarter, junior attackman Brendan Mullen had a goal with 2:36 left in the second quarter that decreased Ridge’s lead to 4-2 but the Red Devils would get that goal back as junior midfielder Alex Gaydos scored with 1:50 left in the second quarter.
“Although we didn’t win and the score wasn’t where we needed it to be,” Southern coach John Pampalone said. “We came up here and we played hard and we competed.”
Southern was shut out in the third quarter while Ridge scored seven straight goals between the third and fourth quarters to take a 12-2 lead with 10:14 left in the fourth quarter.
The Rams scored the final two goals of the game as sophomore midfielder Chris Smith scored with 7:53 left and junior midfielder Brian Dunphey tallied with 4:19 left.
It was Southern’s first appearance in the NJSIAA boys lacrosse state finals after the Rams won their first sectional title in school history on Saturday.