MATAWAN – There was a game plan put into place for the Monroe High School boys lacrosse team as they squared off against Old Bridge and both Erik Anderson and Sean Gillies worked it to perfection.
Anderson scored a team-high four goals and Gillies dished out five assists as Monroe defeated Old Bridge 12-7 at Old Bridge High School on Tuesday.
Gillies found Anderson twice cutting right in front of the crease to start the second half. The two plays shows just how well they have come together over their time at Monroe, but both players credited the strategy going in for coming out with the win.
“Me and this kid (Anderson) work every single day together, backyard stuff and everything like that, but we got to give it up to coach Garavente. He put in a game plan, a zone buster and we knew that if we run it right, it’s going to work,” said Gillies.
“I hit Erik on the crease and he’s going to finish those every time. I have the confidence in him to put those in the back of the net.”
Gillies spread it out, assisting Dylan Wood twice and Peter Jarosiewicz once and added two goals of his own. Anderson returned the favor to Gillies late in the fourth quarter as Old Bridge tried to mount a comeback.
The victory was sweet for Monroe, as the Falcons were unable to defeat the Knights last year in three games, including games in the Greater Middlesex Conference semifinals and the state quarterfinals. Anderson explained that it was definitely in their minds heading into the game.
“We took it more personal than anything. Our preparation was no joking around. We went straight to the point every minute of practice. We got to practicing that zone buster and it was really beneficial,” said Anderson.
It may have bubbled over some during the game as tempers flared, causing Monroe to take a three minute non-releasable penalty that allowed Old Bridge to score two goals, cutting the lead to 10-6. The lead was preserved without too much worry, but it was something that coach Joe Yannone wants to make sure doesn’t happen again.
“We took some really bad and egregious penalties that I wasn’t really happy with. Sometimes in the heat of the game, guys make silly mistakes. Fortunately it didn’t come back to hurt us too bad, but I know my defensive coordinator is not happy giving up seven goals,” said Yannone.
Yannone added, “Guys remembered the pain of losing to these guys three times last year. It’s just one game and we’re gonna play bigger than this, but it feels good to beat these guys. We need to play smarter. We keep saying it’s not about me it’s about the team. If we can eliminate that, we’ll be okay.”
The defense gave up goals inside the crease down a man, allowing Old Bridge’s Ryan Bannon to score twice on the doorstep. When numbers were even, it was a different story as Monroe held strong inside and made things tough for the Knights.
Bannon ended the game with a hat trick, with all three goals scored in the fourth quarter. The Knights however, were unable to overcome the 9-3 deficit.
Old Bridge coach Andrew Borriello liked the way his team fought back from behind after the penalties started to mount. The man advantage was something Old Bridge was looking for, but didn’t get enough of early.
“We knew that it was going to happen. They did a nice job holding it until the second half and we just wish it had been a little earlier. We did a nice job staying in the game. I felt like we never gave up and that’s something to hang our hats on,” said Borriello.
Borriello knows that there is a target on his team’s back after going 7-0 in conference play last year and the coach wants his team to respond better and adjust moving forward.
“Every team wants to beat Old Bridge. Old Bridge is supposedly the team they want to beat and unfortunately, two teams have come in and done just that,” said Borriello. “We need to do a better job of responding. It’s a long season and I anticipate we will.”
Staff Writer Matt Silva: email@example.com