Follow Bob Badders on Twitter for scores and news from around the Shore.

 

BRIDGEWATER — An incredible postseason run by Rumson-Fair Haven’s men’s lacrosse team came to an end on Saturday night against a New Jersey powerhouse.

Playing in the NSIAA Tournament of Champions for the first time ever after its thrilling and historic Group I championship victory on Wednesday, sixth-seeded Rumson fell to third-seeded Summit 7-0 in the TOC quarterfinals at Basilone Memorial Field.

Andrew Chase had a hat trick for the Hilltoppers and their vaunted zone defense proved impenetrable in shutting out the Bulldogs and limiting them to just nine shots. Rumson junior goalie Kyle Knapp made 10 saves in back of an outstanding defensive effort that held Summit to three goals heading to the fourth quarter.

“It was very difficult to break down,” said senior midfielder Lucas Seckler of Summit’s defense. “They have good athletes, they’re very well-coached and they play with a lot of heart. It’s hard to penetrate a defense that knows the fundamentals so well and wants it so bad. They’re very aggressive. When we don’t see a zone like that all year it’s tough.”

“We didn’t take care of the ball on offense and had some trouble clearing it,” said Rumson head coach Andy Eastwood. “They are very patient on offense and their defense is incredible, so you can’t give them extra opportunities.”

The Hilltoppers moved ahead 4-0 early in the fourth and piled on three more goals in the final two and a half minutes to advance to the semifinals against second-seeded Bergen Catholic on Wednesday at Kean University.

John Cordrey staked Summit to a 1-0 lead with a goal 2:26 into the game and Chase scored with five minutes left in the first to double the advantage. Late in the second quarter Cordrey threaded a gorgeous pass to Corey McManus, who finished on the doorstep with 53 seconds remaining until halftime.

There was no scoring in the third quarter, but that was when Rumson made its biggest push. The Bulldogs had just two shots to that point, but put five toward the cage in span of just over two minutes. They couldn’t get one past senior goalie Jay Winchell, however, who made his only two saves of the game during that stretch. Bryan Hess had Rumson’s best look when he dodged a defender and came in one-one-one with Winchell, but his shot bounced just over the crossbar.

Chris Zanelli made it 4-0 with an unassisted goal 59 seconds into the fourth quarter and Chase scored his second and third goals with 2:39 and 1:13 left, respectively, to put Summit up 6-0. Face-off midfielder Malcolm Feeney won the ensuing draw and took it in himself 14 seconds later for the final tally.

Saturday’s game was uncharted territory for Rumson, which won its first NJSIAA Group championship and first ever by a Shore Conference team with an epic 9-8 overtime win over Mountain Lakes. Summit, conversely, was making its seventh TOC appearance in the 12-year history of the tournament. Regardless of the outcome Saturday night, Rumson took a huge next step not just for its own program, but for the Shore Conference as a whole.

Rumson entered the season with just six seniors and four returning varsity players. The Bulldogs rebounded from an 0-4 start to reach the Shore Conference Tournament championship game for the sixth straight season, then bounced back from a loss there to Southern to win their second South Jersey Group I title before stunning Mountain Lakes in the Group I final.

“You look at the graduation list from last year and I think a lot of people counted us out, but they didn’t know what was in the stable,” Eastwood said. “We got tremendous effort and desire from the senior group, and we were talented with the underclassmen. As the season went on they realized they could play with good players and good teams.”

“They just never quit,” Eastwood continued. “There was no quit in these guys, and that perseverance carried us a long way.”

With the bulk of its roster returning, Rumson could very well be the favorite in Group I next season. For the seniors, it was a ride they’ll never forget.

“We have nothing to hang our heads about,” Seckler said. “We were the first Shore Conference team to win a group and we beat Mountain Lakes to do it. It’s been a hell of a season. We crawled back from 0-4 and had our ups and downs. Not too many people had much to say about us early in the season, so I couldn’t be prouder as a senior to come out and do the best we could. It didn’t go our way tonight but overall it was amazing.”

 

BOX SCORE

NJSIAA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Quarterfinals

3-Summit 7, 6-Rumson-Fair Haven 0

Rumson (18-7) 0 0 0 0 - 0

Summit  (19-4) 2 1 0 4 - 7

GOALS: Andrew Chase 3, John Cordrey, Corey McManus, Chris Zanelli, Malcolm Feeney.

ASSISTS: John Cordrey.

SAVES - RFH: Kyle Knapp 10; S: Jay Winchell 2.

SHOTS: Summit 28-9.