CROSS RIVER – The heightened expectations are justified.
John Jay is talent rich and clearly determined to win a Section 1 championship this season. Matt Lupinacci and Hunter Keech finished with three goals apiece Thursday in a 13-7 win over Suffern to get the Indians off and running.
There is a long way to go, though.
“I think we have a lot of room for improvement,” John Jay coach Tim Schurr said. “Some guys did very well. Some guys played very poorly. We hustled pretty well, but we had some breakdowns.”
The Indians have multiple scoring threats and seem comfortable whether they are in transition or settled, which makes the lulls puzzling.
“We come out hot and then falter as the game goes on,” Lupinacci said.
Jack Gorman got John Jay rolling, scoring twice in a span of 30 seconds. Josh Rubin kept the run going and Lupinacci slipped away from a defender with 1:13 to play in the first to make it a 4-0 lead.
The momentum was halted when C.J. Greco took a rip, scoring in the final minute of the quarter.
“It was definitely important, starting like that,” Lupinacci said. “And then we take a three-minute penalty for an illegal stick, which kind of slowed us down.”
A turnover spoiled any hope of a quick comeback.
The Mounties came up empty despite playing man-up for three minutes. J.P. Surovich netted a transition goal to narrow the deficit, but Lupinacci found a corner and Keech made it a 6-2 cushion.
Suffern is learning, too.
“The kids worked hard today, but we gave them four goals to start the game,” Mounties coach Dave McNally said. “I thought we came ready to play, but the kids were a little wide-eyed for a while and then we started playing. They got a couple more to start the second half, and we got a couple back at the end to make it competitive, but I’m not satisfied and I hope the kids aren’t, either. There is some work to do.”
Lucas Sommers leaned in and got Suffern within 7-4 early in the second half, but the Indians responded with a 5-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Player of the game: Josh Rubin. The promising junior attackman kept the ball moving and finished with two goals and two assists.
Turning point: There was plenty of time for a comeback after the Mounties got within 7-4, but a turnover by goalie Dan Sharp led to an open-net goal by Lupinacci. John Jay scored four more before the quarter came to a close.
Stat line: The Indians had seven different players score a goal. … Jackson Rieger had three assists. … Sharp was outstanding in goal for Suffern, finishing with 13 saves. … Tommy Schember had two goals to lead the Mounties.
Quotable: “This is a special year for us, we think, and if everything goes well and we play John Jay lacrosse, I think we can make it to the chip,” Keech said. “We’ll see. Coming so close in the final last year, pushes us to the next level. Losing by two goals to Yorktown, it shows how close we are to winning. Every day we come to practice, get better and work hard.”