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MIDDLETOWN — Facing a five-goal deficit on its home field in the third quarter, Christian Brothers Academy was in the midst of doing what it has done several times already this season in storming back to take a lead. And Howell, admitted senior Mark Buannic, had not been the best at protecting fourth-quarter advantages over the past few seasons.

“I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve lost games in the fourth quarter, so we just wanted to finish it,” he said. “I walked into the fourth quarter huddle and said let’s finish this game, and this time we did it.”

Buannic scored twice and the Rebels also got a goal from senior Zack Ornstein while keeping CBA off the scoresheet in the final 12 minutes to compete a stunning upset as Howell, ranked No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, took down the No. 3 Colts on Friday afternoon in a pivotal Shore Conference Class A North game.

Buannic, a senior attackman, scored a game-high five goals and added three assists, senior attackman Jake Sherman had a hat trick and Ornstein helped Howell (8-1, 3-0) control the pace by winning 17-of-21 face-offs. It all added up to Howell’s first win over CBA in program history and the Colts’ first divisional loss since 2010.

“All I can say is it’s great, I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Ornstein said.

“We set goals as a team and we achieve goals as team,” Buannic said. “That’s what we’ve been preaching all year, and we won today as a team.”

Howell led from the start, jumping on the Colts 3-1 in the first quarter and quickly pushing its advantage to 5-1 with two goals in the first 1:18 of the second quarter. CBA got it as close as 10-8 by scoring the final three goals of the third quarter, but the Howell offense pumped in the only three tallies of the fourth while senior goalie Ian Colmorgan, who was phenomenal with 17 saves, and a defense led by senior Anthony Pozsonyi shut the door.

Pozsonyi had the task of marking CBA sophomore attackman Nick Casner, who creates so much of the Colts’ offense from the X position.

“He certainly got his looks, but we thought he’d go toe-to-toe with him,” said Howell head coach Anthony Bonjavanni. "He’s just a competitor. That’s the matchup we focused on, and he came up huge when it mattered most.”

Freshman attackman Mike Carroll led CBA (5-3, 2-1) with three goals while Casner and junior attackman Shay Walscak each finished with two goals and two assists. Evan Bynoe made 10 saves.

Junior midfielder Nic Rossi opened the scoring with the first of his two goals off a feed form Buannic just 46 seconds into the game. Rossi then returned the favor by setting up Buannic at 7:04 to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Casner tallied unassisted at 3:17, but Howell responded on a goal by sophomore midfielder Nico Lorenzo off another assist from Buannic at 2:05.

Ornstein was 12-for-14 on draws in the first half, and that was a big reason why Howell was able to put together some quick scoring plays. His face-off win to open the second quarter led to Buannic’s unassisted goal at 11:30, and another win started a possession that ended with Rossi taking a pass from Evan Wesley and beating Bynoe for a 5-1 lead at 10:42.

“It starts at face-off X with Zack and it’s huge,” Bonjavanni said. “We can let goals in because - and it went the other way last year where we lost almost every single one and were still close (11-7 in the Shore Conference Tournament) - we figured we could reverse that. Regardless of how many goals they pump in, we knew we could get the ball back right afterwards and stay even.”

Walscak fed Carroll for a goal at 8:57 to pull CBA within 5-2, but junior middie Jason Kenny scored off an assist from senior attackman J.T. Pojero at 6:00 on a man-advantage, and Sherman sank an unassisted goal at 3:02 to give the Rebels a 7-2 lead. Casner scored at 2:15 before setting up Carroll in front for a goal with 1:43 left in the half, but Buannic got it right back by scoring with 17 seconds left to make it 8-4.

“We always talk about coming out fast, and we try to do it every game,” Buannic said. “We came out fast today, but we said in the huddle that it was 0-0, and that’s how we kept our mindset.”

“It definitely helped, but whether we’re down 5-1 or up 5-1 we’re going to fight,” Ornstein said. “That’s the biggest difference this year. We’re not going to take our foot off the pedal.”

A pair of goals by Sherman in the first three minutes of the third quarter sandwiched around a goal by Carroll had the Rebels up 10-5, but CBA’s M.O. began to play out as the Colts scored three goals in the final 5:20 to make it 10-8. Walscak set up junior midfielder Justin Shea-Katz at 5:20, scored off a dish from junior middie John Salcedo at 3:54 and scored again with 12.9 seconds left from a pass by Casner.

It wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Colts come all the way back. This program has been there before and Howell has not. But the Rebels had other ideas, instead playing like a championship team in the fourth quarter to close out the biggest win in program history. Buannic scored unassisted at 8:39 before Ornstein won the ensuring face-off and took it in himself for a 12-8 lead. Buannic sealed the win with a goal with 2:32 left.

“On one hand I was a nervous wreck, and on the other hand, I have faith in my kids,” Bonjavanni said.

“A lot of times when you’re going against a team ranked higher in the Shore and in the state you start to slow down a bit, but we just knew what we had to do,” Ornstein said.

The Rebels will take the rest of the weekend to bask in the glow of a monumental victory, but they know a regular-season win, no matter how big, won’t mean much if they let their game slip from here on out. As far as they’re concerned, this is only the beginning.

“It’s a really sentimental win, but championships aren’t won on April 17,” Ornstein said. “We’re not putting a ring on our fingers today. We have to take this momentum and go right into Monday and not overlook anybody, and just keep fighting.”

 

BOX SCORE

No. 5 Howell 13, No. 3 Christian Brothers Academy 8

Howell (8-1, 3-0) 3 5 2 3 - 11

CBA (5-3, 2-1)     1 3 4 0 - 8

GOALS - H: Mark Buannic 5, Jake Sherman 3, Nic Rossi 2, Nico Lorenzo, Jason Kenny, Zack Ornstein; CBA: Mike Carroll 3, Nick Casner 2, Shay Walscak 2, Justin Shea-Katz.

ASSISTS - H: Mark Buannic 3, Nick Rossi, Evan Wesley, Justin Kenny, J.T. Pojero; CBA: Nick Casner 2, Shay Walscak 2, John Salcedo.

SAVES - H: Ian Colmorgan 17; CBA: Evan Bynoe 10.

SHOTS - Howell 31-26.