MONROE – The word triumph means to be victorious or successful; to win.
So far through its first five games the Monroe High School boys lacrosse team has exemplified that term, as the lower back of their shirts underneath their game uniforms adorns the word ‘TRIUMPH.’
On Thursday Monroe continued its strong start of the season and improved to 5-0 with a sound 9-4 victory over Greater Middlesex Conference foe South Brunswick.
Junior attack Sean Gillies led the way with two goals and three assists for the Falcons while junior attack Erik Anderson, junior midfielder Chase Santiago, and senior attack Peter Jarosiiewicz all added two goals each in the win.
“It’s just rise above,” Gillies said of the term ‘Triumph.’ “We got to oversee last year and we got to get ready. We got to grind down and everyone’s got goals here and we’re going to do what it takes to reach them.”
Monroe (5-0) has relied mostly on its junior class, as they have 14 juniors compared to just four seniors on the roster, but the growing pains they went through last year during an 8-12 campaign has paid dividends thus far in this young season.
Monroe coach Joe Yannone addresses his team after it's 9-4 win over South Brunswick pic.twitter.com/NYmDrbiHhM— Mike Becker (@realmikebecker) April 9, 2015
“These guys are playing great. I’m so happy with these guys so far,” Monroe head coach Joe Yannone said. “They’ve really matured, they’ve gained a lot of momentum. They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them. Just one year removed from last season where were 8-12 and didn’t really do much, but they learned and they came in ready to go and they knew we have a large junior class, so they’ve been stepping up and doing a great job.”
South Brunswick (3-4) held much of the possession in the first half, thanks in large part to its face-off specialist Jeff Wu, who won eight of 10 face-offs over the course of the game.
The Vikings played that to their advantage, controlling the pace and limiting Monroe’s abilities to get out in attack as the teams were tied 1-1 after one quarter and scoring chances were at a premium for the Falcons.
Monroe though gained some offensive momentum in the final five minutes of the half with goals from Anderson and Santiago to take a 3-1 lead, and after South Brunswick pulled within a goal two minutes into the third quarter, Monroe responded with three straight goals and scored six of the game’s final eight goals to pull away.
“They (South Brunswick) did a good job in the first half kind of slowing the game down,” Yannone said. “I thought we got a couple key face-offs and kind of adjusted to where we had a couple good possessions, but we also finished our shots in the second half as opposed to not finishing much. We didn’t have the ball in the first half that much.”
Austin Miller led South Brunswick with a goal and three assists while Tyler White netted two goals. Joey Massoni made six saves in goal to get the win for Monroe.
Everything has clicked for Monroe so far, and they’ll need to carry that momentum into its next game as a big GMC showdown with Old Bridge looms.
The Knights handed Monroe three losses last year, including in the GMC and state tournaments.
“Our chemistry would absolutely be the key here,” Gillies said. “Me, Eric Anderson, Peter Jarosiiewicz, Chase Santiago —we all play together all year round. It’s a brotherhood out here, so dodge with your heads off. Everyone’s looking for each other and sharing the ball —that’s the name of the game and it’s looking good. Got to give it off to our defense though, they’re locking it down and I couldn’t be more happy.”
Staff writer Mike Becker: firstname.lastname@example.org