The Monroe High School boys lacrosse team entered Saturday’s NJSIAA South Group IV sectional final against Southern Regional on an incredible high.
The Falcons had gone on the road in the quarterfinals and semifinals, defeating third-seeded Freehold Township and second-seeded Jackson Memorial, and felt as though the good vibes would continue in their first ever sectional final appearance.
Those good feelings the Falcons had were completely railroaded, however, when the top-seeded Rams toppled the sixth-seeded Falcons, 19-5.
“They took it to us today,” Monroe coach Joe Yannone said after the game. “I had a lot of confidence coming in. I thought we were ready, especially with the week we had in building up to this game. But, they played at a different pace than we could have saw on film. We just got completely out of sync after the first quarter.”
Monroe (14-9) trailed only 3-2 after the games’ first 12 minutes, appearing as though they’d be a worthy opponent on the afternoon. But, the pace that Yannone referred to quickly took shape, as the Rams (18-1) scored six unanswered goals in the second quarter to lead 9-2 heading into intermission.
“We just weren’t getting to their shooters fast enough,” Yannone said, on the difference between the first and second quarters. “I thought they were moving the ball around our zone very quickly and we just weren’t reacting to the shooters fast enough. We weren’t getting on the hands fast enough, we weren’t sliding over, putting pressure on them. They were getting some great shots and they were passing the ball really well.”
The lone standout for Monroe on the afternoon was senior attack Joseph Collins, who scored four times and added one assist.
It was tough for Collins to talk after the game as the tears rolled down his face, understanding that his varsity career was over and just how final the whole situation can be. But, one poor game should not overshadow not only what Collins’ and his teammates have done this season, but what he and his fellow seniors have done for Monroe lacrosse, simply putting the Falcons on the map over the past four years.
“We’ve been taking a lot of steps to get to this point,” Collins said. “This was our goal from the beginning of the season, to come out here and win Group IV. We’ve come pretty far from where we used to be as freshman, you know, winning our first state playoff game in 2011 and now this.”