WEST LONG BRANCH – With a great goaltending performance, stellar individual efforts, a furious comeback and a buzzer-beating goal, Friday’s nondivisional game between Shore and Lacey had it all.

In one of the wildest games of the season, Shore, ranked No. 10 in the Shore Sports Network Top, was finally able to exhale when junior midfielder Jake Turner scored with 2:15 left in overtime to stave off an incredible comeback attempt by Lacey and give the Blue Devils at 14-13 victory at Feeney Field.

“As soon as he hit the shot I was so happy, he’s my best friend and that’s his first big-time moment, so I was happy for him,” said Shore junior midfielder Gil Goldsmith. “And then the relief that is was all over. Overtime was just madness and when Jake hit the shot it was pandemonium.”

Shore (7-2) was cruising entering the fourth quarter and held an 11-5 lead heading into the final 12 minutes. But that’s when Lacey began to author a valiant rally that nearly stole the game for the Lions. Lacey scored eight times over the final quarter, including the tying goal as the buzzer sounded, to send the game into overtime tied at 13. JoeCarlo Chimenti, Ryan Giles (twice) and Dylan Vitale scored in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to cut Shore’s lead to two, and then in the final 90 seconds Vitale scored three times, including the game-tying goal off a pass from Chimenti with one second left, that knotted the score at 13.

“They’re tough kids,” said Lacey head coach Shane Allen. “We had a tough loss last week we were disappointed in where we were tied going into the fourth and we lost, so we challenged the guys in terms of finishing games with character. I think you saw the revealing of their efforts today with the way they battled back.”

“They just focused on chopping wood and on getting one goal at a time to give us a chance,” Allen said. “Dylan Vitale comes up clutch with one second left to tie it up. He’s an exceptional player and I can’t praise that kid enough right now.”

In overtime, senior Mike Gallicchio continued his great face-off work to give Lacey possession to start the extra period. Shore was without its regular face-off specialist, Matt O’Donnell, but the draws were fairly even until the fourth quarter when Gallicchio went 9-for-10 to help fuel Lacey’s rally. The Lions won the face-off but Shore quickly regained possession to move down the field. Goldsmith got the ball to Justin Murphy but his shot was blocked by a Lacey defenseman. The Lions then cleared the ball and moved into the Shore offensive zone for a possession, but an errant pass resulted in a turnover that gave Shore the ball back.

Goldsmith then executed the clear and got it to Turner, who was able to fire a shot past Lacey goalie Justin Covey to clinch the dramatic victory.

“Gil did a great job clearing it and found me cutting down the field,” Turner said. “I was able to make a kid miss, I put it on the ground lefty and it went in.”

“I can honestly say looking at all the different scores from around the Shore Conference that you cannot exhale on any team until you are done with the game,” said Shore head coach Gregg Malfa. “You exhale too soon and that’s what’s going to happen, they’re going to come back. We were lucky today that we just had one more play than they had.”

Shore took a 5-2 lead after the first quarter, scoring twice while Covey was in the penalty box serving a three-minute, non-releasable penalty for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Giles cut Lacey’s deficit to 5-3 in the second quarter but Goldsmith and senior attackman Ryan Morris both scored to give the Blue Devils a 7-3 halftime lead.

The teams traded goals in the third quarter and Shore held a 9-5 edge, but Turner then scored twice in the final 2:21 to give the Blue Devils an 11-5 lead. There were no actions on the field that would have led anyone to believe the fourth quarter would be any different. Lacey had other ideas.

Gallicchio won the opening face-off of the fourth quarter, rushed down the field and dished to Chimenti for a goal just six seconds in to make it 11-6. Giles then scored at 10:01 to make it 11-7, then scored again off a feed from Dominic Waltonowski at 9:04 to make it 11-8. At the 7:05 mark it was Vitale scoring his second of the game to trim Shore’s lead to 11-9. Now, all the momentum was on Lacey’s side.

Shore momentarily stopped the bleeding when Murphy set up Morris for a goal at 5:34 to make it 12-9, but 90 seconds later Jared Lotruglio tallied to once again pull Lacey within two goals. But when Goldsmith struck for his fifth goal of the game with just 1:50 left, giving Shore a 13-10 lead, it looked like the Blue Devils had wrapped it up.

Once again, Lacey dug in and rallied. Gallicchio won the ensuing face-off and Vitale scored with 1:25 to go. Gallicchio won another face-off and Vitale tallied with 34 seconds left. Gallicchio then won the next face-off to give the Lions a chance to set up for the tying goal. They worked the ball around before Clayton Humcke took a shot that was stopped by Shore sophomore goalie Scott Sirianni. Giles corralled the rebound but Sirianni again made the save and sent the ball caroming behind the net. The battle for the ground ball was on and it was Chimenti who was able to shield off a Shore defense, pick up the loose ball and find Vitale on the crease where he buried the game-tying goal to force overtime.

“It was sketchy,” Turner said. “We were up six and we took our foot off the pedal.”

“Coming out like that in the fourth quarter, we played very poorly,” Goldsmith said. “We got a couple goals just to get it into overtime and we kind of clutched-up when we had to. Overtime was a dog fight. We lost the face-off, played D, pushed it up the field and we get a shot blocked, they come down the field again. It was madness.”

Saving Shore’s hide on numerous occasions was Sirianni, who made 19 saves in the best game of his young career. He had 11 saves in the second half when Lacey peppered him with 25 shots.

“For a sophomore, he’s pretty composed in there,” Malfa said. “He comes in physically and mentally prepared.”

“Scott never fails to impress me with how good he is,” Goldsmith said. “I practice with him every day and he stuffs me continuously, and then come game time he does the same thing. It’s truly fantastic how he’s playing right now.”

The versatile game of Goldsmith was also on display against Lacey. The standout midfielder finished with five goals, one assist, double-digit ground balls and rarely came off the field.

“We use him everywhere. He plays man-up, man-down, on the wing, he’s our guy we go through on offense, he’s a ground ball machine,” Malfa said. “You cannot have enough of those kids on your team. He’s a kid that when it comes crunch time he’s an ‘I’ll get it done’ type of kid.”

Friday’s game was also yet another example of the parity in the Shore Conference.

“How we look at it is there’s the two big guys, Manasquan and CBA, and everyone else is even,” Goldsmith said. “If you have your good day and they have their bad they anyone can be beaten.”

“You’re not seeing a whole lot of blowouts with those teams from, let’s say, No. 3 through No. 10,” Malfa said. “They’re all two or three-goal games at best. You have to stay on your toes every week because the minute you let your guard down those guys will sneak right past you.”

 

Box Score

No. 10 Shore 14, Lacey 13 (OT)

Lacey (4-3) 2 1 2 8 0 – 13

Shore (6-2) 5 2 4 2 1 – 14

GOALS – L: Dylan Vitale 5, Ryan Giles 3, Jared Lotruglio 2, Dominic Waltonowski 2, JoeCarlo Chimenti; S: Gil Goldsmith 5, Jake Turner 4, Justin Murphy 2, Ryan Morris 2, Tom Bocco.

ASSISTS – L: Dominic Waltonowski, JoeCarlo Chimenti, Mike Gallicchio; S: Jack McCrae 3, Ryan Morris 3, Gil Goldsmith, Justin Murphy.

SAVES – L: Justin Covey 5, Ryan Hanaway 2; S: Scott Sirianni 19.

SHOTS: Lacey, 39-31.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.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.

 

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