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PENNINGTON — With a high-powered offense across the field and two of its own attackmen injured, Wall knew it had to alter its usual gameplan and slow the pace of play against Hopewell Valley.

Other than trailing by one goal, the first half went exactly as the Crimson Knights had hoped. The final two quarters were another story.

Hopewell Valley’s offense got on track in the second half with the help of four penalties by Wall in the third quarter. The Bulldogs ended up outscoring the Knights by an eight-to-two margin over the final 24 minutes for an 11-4 victory in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II playoffs on Tuesday afternoon at Ackerson Field.

Tyler Krampf led Hopewell Valley (16-4) with four goals and 100-point scorer Brady Moore fired in a pair of goals to go along with three assists.

Wall senior attackman Kyle Critchlow scored all four goals for the Crimson Knights (11-5). Hunter Kaplan finished with 11 saves on 38 shots against.

Wall senior Kyle Critchlow (2) scored all four goals for the Crimson Knights in their loss to Hopewell Valley in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II quarterfinals.

Wall was without senior attackman Bruno Setteducati, who said he suffered a separated shoulder in last week’s game versus Manasquan. Senior attackman Kyle McDonough, a 50-goal scorer, played but was severely limited with a back injury, according to head coach Chris Knight. In it’s most important game of the year, Wall had to drastically alter its offensive approach without two if its biggest weapons.

“We tried to go through the middies and they did the best they could,” Knight said. “We don’t have a huge bench and this time of year if we have two or three injuries we’re in trouble.”

Hopewell Valley led 3-2 at halftime, and despite its watered-down offense, Wall’s defensive efforts had it exactly where it wanted to be. Casey Foley was a solid 3-for-5 on draws in the first half to allow the Knights ample opportunities at deliberate possessions, and senior defensive middie Tim Foley was keeping Moore from taking over the game with tenacious man-to-man defense at the top of the box.

Myles Ackerson gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the first quarter, and Krampf pushed the advantage to 2-0 at 9:05 of the second quarter. The Bulldogs nearly made it 3-0, but Kaplan made a huge save one-on-one with Krampf to keep Wall within two goals. On the ensuring possession, Critchlow took a pass from midfielder P.J. Brown and got Wall on the board at 7:32. Krampf netted his second of the game when he curled around the net and scored, but Critchlow got it back when he fought through traffic in front of the net and fired a shot past Liam Healey at 3:09.

“We came in excited, and at 3-2 at the half we were ready to go,” Knight said. “But the start of the third…”

What was an even game across the board through two quarters dramatically shifted in Hopewell Valley’s favor in the third. Wall was whistled for four penalties in the third quarter, and although the Knights were able to kill off three of the four, the toll it put on the defense set the tone for the rest of the game. Ryan Schilling started the Bulldogs’ second-half run when he picked up a ground ball and swept it past Kaplan at 8:15 to make it 4-2. Moore scored his first goal with a doge and rip for an extra-man opportunity goal at 5:56, and Krampf made 6-2 when he scored on a breakaway at 3:18. Hopewell Valley outshot Wall 15-2 in the third quarter. The ball rarely crossed into the attacking zone for the Knights.

Wall goalie Hunter Kaplan (4) made 11 saves, including several crucial stops in the first half to keep the Crimson Knights close in an eventual 11-4 loss to Hopewell Valley in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II quarterfinals.

“It was frustrating,” Knight said. “If you eliminate the third quarter it’s a game. A team with that many sticks you can’t give up that many penalties to. It puts too much wear and tear on the defense.”

“If you give any team a good amount of possessions and take penalties it’s going to be tough,” Critchlow said. “You need the ball to score.”

Despite the forgettable third period, Wall still found itself within striking distance entering the fourth quarter thanks to Critchlow’s EMO goal off a feed from Liam Ferg with 13 seconds left in the half, trimming the deficit to 6-3.

“That was a big goal,” Knight said. “In the fourth quarter we needed the first goal, but they came in and scored right away, and that hurt.”

Directly off the face-off to start the fourth, Sean Kent sprinted toward the net and beat Kaplan to make it 7-3 just seven seconds in. Any momentum Wall had picked up from Critchlow’s goal late in the third was gone, and Hopewell Valley began to pull away. Ackerson’s second goal on an EMO at 10:47 and Will Cusma’s tally at 10:21 gave the Bulldogs a 9-3 lead. McDonough fed Critchlow for an EMO gal at 8:13 to make it 9-4, but that was as close as Wall would get. Cusma scored into an empty net after Kaplan was chasing a ground ball at 6:20, and Moore put the finishing touches on the win with a blast from the right side at 5:47.

“Those penalties gave them really good momentum and sometimes it’s hard to come back from that,” Critchlow said. “But I give (the defense) credit for not letting in 30 goals with the amount of possessions they had.”

“I’m proud of the kids, they played well and they played hard,” Knight said. “We had a great season. We thought this could be (redemption) for the CBA game where we had one bad quarter but came away feeling we could beat them. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way."


Box Score

4-Hopewell Valley 11, 5-Wall 4

Wall (11-5)                    0 2 1 1 -  4

Hopewell Valley (16-4) 1 2 3 5 - 11

GOALS - W: Kyle Critchlow 4; HV: Tyler Krampf 4, Myles Ackerson 2, Brady Moore 2, Sean Kent, Ryan Schilling, Will Cusma.

ASSISTS - W: P.J. Brown, Liam Ferg, Kyle McDonough; HV: Brady Moore 3.

SAVES - W: Hunter Kaplan 11; HV: Liam Healey 7.

SHOTS: Hopewell Valley, 38-16.