LIVINGSTON — When Jarrett Birch scored 2:33 into the third quarter it put Manasquan ahead by one in the NJSIAA Group II title game, closer to a state championship than many predicted they would ever be against Chatham.

The lead did not last long, however, and Chatham went on a three-goal run to pull ahead and stay there for good. Austin Pierce’s tally at 6:15 of the third quarter stood up as the game-winning goal and Chatham edged Manasquan, 4-2, to capture the 2016 NJSIAA Group II championship on Wednesday night at Livingston High School.

Playing in its first state championship game in program history, Manasquan proved it belonged against a seasoned and battle-tested Chatham squad that wound up securing the program’s third state title and first since 2013. Manasquan struck first when Birch scored 1:08 into the game, and the Warriors and Cougars were tied 1-1 at halftime.

Birch then made it 2-1 when he backed in his defender and unleashed a laser that found the top corner of the net in the first three minutes of the second half. Matt Coleman would answer just 1:04 later, however, as the Cougars owned the third quarter with three goals and a major edge in time of possession. Pierce’s goal off a pass from Mac Bredahl made it 3-2, and Chatham (19-6) capitalized on an extra-man opportunity when Bredahl scored his second of the game off a feed from Tim Adams in transition to make it 4-2.

Manasquan’s Matt Thermann went 3-for-4 on face-offs in the first half, but Chatham’s Will Hosbein provided the Cougars with the ball for most of the second half by winning four of five draws over the final two quarters. Where Manasquan was great on ground balls on both ends during the first half, Chatham was equally as diligent in the second half. When Manasquan dd get quality chances in the third and fourth quarters, Chatham senior goalie Matt Nestler was there with clutch saves, including three in the final period.

Manasquan’s defense played exceptionally well against a Chatham offense that moved the ball with quickness and precision. After falling behind 4-2, Manasquan kept itself alive by killing off a two-minute, non-releasable penalty in the final two minutes of the third quarter. Junior goalie Tom Pollock was tremendous with nine saves.

The two teams played even for much of the game with the difference being Chatham taking advantage when Manasquan had a sloppy five-minute stretch in the third quarter.

 

BOX SCORE

Chatham 4, Manasquan 2

Manasquan (19-5) 1 0 1 0 — 2

Chatham (19-6)     1 0 3 0 — 4

GOALS - M: Jarrett Birch 2; C: Mac Bredahl 2, Matt Coleman, Austin Pierce.

ASSISTS - C: Mac Bredahl, Tim Adams.

SAVES - M: Tom Pollock 9; C: Matt Nestler 6.

SHOTS: Chatham, 24-14.

 

Lacrosse editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.