The Delbarton lacrosse team had Saturday’s game against Mountain Lakes circled on the calendar since the beginning of the season, and for good reason.
The game came down to the wire as senior midfielder Conor Mackie scored the game-winning goal on an assist from senior attack J.J. McBride with four seconds left to lead the Green Wave over the Lakers 12-11.
“We knew they were going to throw everything at us,” McBride said. “We know it’s such a big game, all the rivalry that goes into it, we knew that if we didn’t play our best game then we’d struggle and luckily today we came out and played and we played well.”
With the game tied 9-9 at the end of the third quarter, Mountain Lakes (7-2) took the lead on a goal by junior attack Zander Kotsen with 9 minutes 52 seconds left. Senior midfielder Jordan Dowiak tied it up again for the Green Wave (6-2) on his fifth goal of the day with 6:03 left for a 10-10 game. With 1:41 remaining midfielder Brad Landry connected with senior midfielder Zach Lesko to pull the Lakers ahead 11-10.
McBride tied it up for Delbarton 11-11 with 1 minute to play, and with 10 seconds left Delbarton head coach Chuck Ruebling called a time out. Six seconds later, McBride hit Mackie for the game-winner.
“We came out of the time out and coach drew up a good play for us,” Mackie said. “J.J. was doing a great job for us behind the whole game, he made a good dodge, drew the slide and at that point I was open up top and it was just a matter of finishing it off, but it was a good one.”
The Green Wave jumped out to a 4-1 lead with 5:41 to play in the first quarter, but the Lakers battled back in the final 3:49 to tie the game on goals by Landry and senior attack Christian Cuccinello for a 4-4 game after one. In the second quarter Delbarton again pulled ahead 7-4 on goals by senior midfielder Will McCarthy, Dowiak and junior midfielder T.J. Comizio, and the Lakers could only manage a goal from Kotsen with 3:07 left for a 7-5 Green Wave lead at halftime.
Dowiak struck again with 11:02 left in the third quarter to give Delbarton an 8-5 advantage, but back-to-back goals from Kotsen and senior midfielder Zach Lesko pulled the Lakers to within 8-7 with 8:25 to play. Dowiak stretched the Green Wave lead to 9-7, but Cuccinello struck a minute later for a 9-8 game, and with 4:05 left junior attack Davis Thompson scored on an assist from Cuccinello to tie it up 9-9.
“I think we did a really good job of possessing the ball at the beginning of the game, we were really controlling the face-offs and then just having good possessions on offense and making sure we finished with a goal,” Mackie said. “Then I think we kind of lost it a little bit, we were having short possessions, maybe not making good decisions out there but we really buckled down at the end. Mountain Lakes is a great team, hats off to them, we knew they would fight back so it was a good one.”
Mackie and junior midfielder Connor Kirst led the way for Delbarton on face-offs, winning 15-of-22, which led to long possessions and a strong offense.
“It’s something we work really hard on as a team,” Mackie said of the face-offs. “Coach Ruebling does a great job coaching us and coach (Tim) Flynn made some great adjustments there in the middle of the game, but it’s just something that we work really hard on, it’s an awesome way for us to kind of control the game.”
After starting the season 2-2 with losses to Summit and St. Anthony’s, Delbarton has won its last four games and outscored opponents 50-21. With a game against Fitch-Pitt Division rival Chatham next week and the Morris County Tournament swiftly approaching, the team believes it’s finally starting to hit its stride.
“It says a lot about our team, we really just keep plugging away one goal at a time,” McBride said. “The chemistry of our offense has come together really nicely, we’re playing our best lacrosse I think right now and it’s really good to see.”
Delbarton 12, Mountain Lakes 11
GOALS: (D) Dowiak 5, McBride 3, Shaffer, McCarthy, Comizio, Mackie; (ML) Cuccinello 3, Kotsen 3, Lesko 2, Landry 2, Thompon; ASSISTS: (D) McBride 3, McCarthy 2, Cordrey; (ML) Cuccinello 3, Landry 2, Kotsen, Smith; SAVES: (D) Kovalsky 9; (ML) Kimmelman 7, Beimfohr 4; SHOTS: (D) 26, (ML) 21.