SKILLMAN – They play with their hearts on their sleeves and that emotion helped power the Montgomery boys lacrosse team to a victory on Tuesday afternoon.
Montgomery defeated Ridge 12-9 in the North Group 4 state quarterfinal. They will play Westfield in the semifinal on Thursday.
“We have the mentality that we won’t get outworked on groundballs, we push transition and we knuckle down on defense,” Montgomery coach Jon England said. “We preach the idea of effort and not getting outworked.”
Senior Cam Garinger led the Cougars (13-4) with four goals while sophomore Dan Engles added three of his own. Kevin Quigley led Ridge (9-8) with three goals.
Montgomery held a comfortable 12-6 lead with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Ridge came roaring back and made things interesting.
Quigley scored at the 6:18 mark, Kermit Hoffman followed with another goal with 4:15 left to play and then Matt Mullen scored 25 seconds later to cut the deficit to 12-9.
“We have the tendency to lose our focus,” England said. “We knew we couldn’t afford to let it go for too long.”
The Cougar defense regained that focus, hunkered down and escaped with the win. Goalie Mike Yanovitch, who recorded ten saves on the day, anchored the defense at this critical point.
Montgomery is an emotional team, and they live and die by that passionate play. On Tuesday, that emotion powered them to a victory.
“We always tell the guys on the sideline that everybody has a roll,” Garinger said. “They have a huge roll. It’s a lot better to play when your teammates are rooting for you.”
The Cougars were able to feed off that emotion by ending quarters with guns blazing. They closed the first quarter with two goals, one from Garinger and one from Lucas Goldoni, in the final 13 seconds of the frame. They also closed the third with three straight goals, including two in the final minute and a half.
“It’s huge for us,” England said. “We play very emotionally and when it’s working, we feed off of that.”
England noted that the Goldoni goal had a huge emotional impact on the team. The junior cut to the net with a little less than two seconds left, Garinger found him with a pass and Goldoni buried the shot in the back of the net.
“The sideline erupted after that,” England said. “The guys on the sideline are into the game and the guys on the field feed off of that.”
Montgomery faces a tough opponent on Thursday in Westfield. They’ll have their hands full, but if they can ride their energy, they’re more than capable of winning.
“They’ve got one of the best defenses in the state,” Garinger said. “We’ll stick with what we’ve been doing and hopefully we can get a win.”
Staff writer Daniel LoGiudice: email@example.com