“12 Minutes for One More Week”: Epic fourth quarter leads Rumson-Fair Haven past Summit for NJSIAA Boys Lacrosse Group 2 state title
RUMSON -- "12 minutes for one more week".
When junior midfielder Cole Cashion scored an incredibly clutch goal to tie the score just as the third-quarter buzzer sounded, Rumson-Fair Haven had put itself in position to win the final 12 minutes and secure a state championship. What followed was the Bulldogs putting together a near-flawless fourth quarter at the most critical moment of their lacrosse lives.
In a titanic matchup with Summit in the NJSIAA Group 2 boys lacrosse state championship game on Friday afternoon, Rumson scored the game's final five goals, including all four goals in the fourth quarter, to defeat the Hilltoppers, 9-5, and claim the Group 2 state title. A goal by junior attackman Quinn Stankovits on a man-advantage just 34 seconds into the fourth quarter served as the go-ahead goal as the Bulldogs finally vanquished their postseason nemesis to win their second state title in program history.
Rumson-Fair Haven will be the No. 1 seed for the Tournament of Champions via having the highest LaxNumbers rating, which is used to seed the state tournament. The Bulldogs receive a bye in the quarterfinal round and will host the winner of Bridgewater-Raritan and Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Wednesday.
It was a true all-around effort that propelled Rumson past one of New Jersey's all-time great lacrosse programs. Stankovits scored a team-leading three goals, Cashion delivered a goal and three assists, senior midfielder Tommy French tallied two goals and one assist, senior attackmen Christian Bockelmann and Philip Passalaqua each delivered a goal and an assist, and freshman attackman Grayson Goldin scored a much-needed goal in the third quarter. Junior goalie Will Setteducate made five very important saves to back up a defense comprised of junior defensemen Beau Kemler, Will Rehder, and Luke Jamin, junior LSM Matthew Bockelmann, junior defensive midfielder Zach Iwan, and sophomore defensive midfielder Andy Croddick that was simply superb when it mattered most. And after Summit controlled the face-off X for the first three quarters, Rumson senior FOGO Noah Beacher won every face-off in the fourth quarter with help from a gritty, refuse-to-be-denied wing unit of Bockelmann, sophomore Brody Page, and senior Jason Halikias.
"This is just surreal," Cashion said. "This has been on our calendar for a year. We know how that bus ride home felt (after losing to Summit in the 2021 Group 2 final) and we were just not going to let that happen again."
"It's crazy, we're ecstatic," Stankovits said. "It's what we've been working for all year since losing to them last year. Every single returning player had this wolf mentality, working as hard as we could every day."
The fourth quarter that Rumson put together in one of the biggest moments in program history earns immediate legendary status. Stankovits' goal at 11:26 gave the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead, and after some excellent defensive possessions to give Summit's offense zero quality scoring chances and a tremendous clear by junior defenseman Beau Kemler, French pushed the lead to 7-5 off an assist from Cashion with 5:04 to play. Another face-off win led to Passalaqua spinning and scoring to make it 8-5 with 4:05 on the clock. Rumson could feel the state title in its grasp at this point, and when Setteducate made a save on standout Summit senior John Murray with two minutes left, it effectively clinched the state title. With Summit pressing out of its zone and double-teaming with their goalie, Rumson put the finishing touches on an epic victory when Bockelmann set up Stankovits for a 9-5 lead with 1:18 to go in the game.
"12 minutes for another week, that's all we said," said Rumson head coach Marc Moreau. "12 minutes of the best lacrosse that you have and you get another week. They wanted it. Sometimes it can be that simple. We didn't change anything. They went out and executed so all the credit is to the kids."
The comeback began when Cashion took the ball at X off a restart with seven seconds left in the third quarter. As soon as the whistle blew, Cashion sprinted toward the goal, curled around topside, and scored a magnificent goal just as the buzzer sounded to tie the game 5-5.
"I saw they were running a zone and that kid was pressing out on me so it was 1v1," Cashion said. "I heard their coach scream 'get on his hands!' and usually when they get on hands they're not focusing on me trying to speed past them, so I did just that and stuck it."
Confidence was high between quarters, and the fact that Rumson knew all it had to do was win the fourth quarter to win the state championship only increased the players' focus.
"We said that if we punch these guys in the face we got this, let's just keep going and get it done," Cashion said. "We've worked so hard for this and we want another week together. We don't want this to end."
Rumson had everything working in the fourth quarter, but it all started at the face-off X. Summit's Matt Erman and the Hilltoppers' face-off unit had won all but two draws over the first three quarters. Beacher and RFH's face-off unit flipped the script over the final 12 minutes to go 5-for-5 and set the tone for the championship-winning flurry.
"We started noticing their kid was countering me and we decided I had to keep my left hand low on him," Beacher said. "He's a great FOGO, honestly one of the best I've played all year. We just had to keep our composure, keep ourselves settled."
"Really, it was just effort," said Matthew Bockelmann, who was a force all game and especially when a ground ball was anywhere near him. "It was a 50/50 ground ball every time, no one was winning it clear, so it was whoever gave the most effort was going to win those."
"Matthew Bockelmann, in my opinion, is one of the best LSMs in the state, if not the best," Beacher said. "Having him come off the wing with Zach Iwan, Andy Croddick, Jason Halikias, Brody Page; all those guys were ready to go."
Rumson winning the face-off to open the fourth quarter paid immediate dividends as Summit was flagged for a push with possession 10 seconds into the quarter. On the extra-man opportunity, Stankovits had two great looks from the left wing. The first missed the top-left corner by inches. He got a second chance shortly after, and this time, he did not miss.
Summit's defense - notably its zone - is incredibly difficult to beat, but Rumson's offensive personnel showed once again that it has the collective skillset to attack anything that stands in its way. All six offensive players on the field can dodge and create their own shots. The Bulldogs like to play fast, but that isn't exactly easy against Summit's defense. RFH's patience in settled sets was exceptional, and it also helps to have shooters who can pick a corner from a distance. Stankovits has been doing it all year with rockets up high, and so has French, who extended Rumson's lead to 7-5 with a great shot off a pass from Cashion with 5:04 left.
"Going against a zone, man, whatever, we have an answer for everything," Stankovits said.
Less than a minute later, Passalaqua spun off a check and skipped a shot past Summit goalie Will Klein to give Rumson an 8-5 lead. Summit was able to gain possession after the next face-off and call a timeout with 3:56 left. The Hilltoppers needed a goal in the worst way, but another tenacious defensive possession forced Summit to re-dodge and re-set. Murray dodged to get to the center of the box and let loose a shot from about 15 yards out, but Settecucate went down to his knees to stop the bouncing shot with just over two minutes left.
The ball was loose on the turf as Rumson tried to clear and it was Jamin who came up with the loose ball and turned it ahead into the offensive zone. With Summit double-teaming the ball with their goalie, Christian Bockelmann shook two defenders at X and dished to Stankovits for a 9-5 lead with 1:18 left.
From there, all that was left to do was celebrate on the home turf of Borden Stadium. For the second time in program history, Rumson had won a state championship. They remain the only Shore Conference team to win a boys lacrosse state title.
"That fourth quarter was crazy," Stankovits said. "Every single player had the adrenaline going. I'm at a loss for words now because it's the craziest thing we've ever experienced."
"That fourth quarter was electric," Cashion said.
Friday's game continued and concluded what started on Wednesday at Bridgewater-Raritan. The game was originally played at Basilone Memorial Field in Bridgewater but was suspended due to lightning and severe weather in the area. Summit held a 2-0 lead at the time on goals by standout senior attackman Dylan Sebastian with 11:55 left in the second quarter. The game resumed at Rumson because the Bulldogs had the higher LaxNumbers power ranking.
Bockelmann got Rumson on the board at 10:50 of the second quarter and Stankovits scored off a pass from French to tie the score 2-2 with 6:04 left in the first half. It was an even, back-and-forth game from there until Rumson pulled away with a brilliant final 12 minutes that will go down as one of the most clutch performances in school history.
Summit took a 4-2 lead early in the fourth quarter on goals by Murray and Sebastian and Rumson answered on tallies from Goldin and French. Lucas Stocks gave Summit a 5-4 lead with 1:27 left in the third quarter before Cashion answered with his sensational buzzer-beating goal to tie the score yet again.
To say this Rumson team is special would be stating the obvious. Shore Conference lacrosse has its share of heavyweights with Rumson-Fair Haven, Manasquan, Christian Brothers Academy, and Southern Regional all having played in state championship games over the past 20 years, but the conference as a whole hasn't always garnered much respect around the state. Rumson helped change that narrative when it beat Mountain Lakes to win the 2015 Group 2 title. Now, the Bulldogs have done it again but taking down another legendary program.
What makes this team and this year different is what could come next. Rumson is the No. 1 seed in the Tournament of Champions, which will be contested for the final time this season after the NJSIAA decided to scrap it for all sports following the 2021-2022 scholastic year. They are two wins away from winning the whole darn thing and finishing as the undisputed best team in New Jersey. The state championship won on Friday night satisfied a voracious craving for the Bulldogs, but it is not the end of their journey.
"We are not done," Matthew Bockelmann said. "This is just one step in the direction we want to go. We're playing for each other. These seniors, it's their last year and we're playing to get them one more week. We want to be the last team in New Jersey to step off the field cheering like we are now."
"We're hungry," Stankovits said, "We're a team that wants it all. We want to play until there's no more games to win."
Rumson-Fair Haven 9, Summit 5 in Group 2 State Final
Rumson-Fair Haven 9, Summit 5
Summit (16-3) 2 0 3 0 - 5
Rumson (21-4) 0 2 3 4 -- 9
GOALS -- S: Dylan Sebastian 3, John Murray, Lucas Stocks; RFH: Quinn Stankovits 3, Tommy French 2, Christian Bockelmann, Philip Passalaqua, Grayson Goldin.
ASSISTS -- S: John Murray 2; RFH: Cole Cashion 3, Tommy French, Christian Bockelmann, Philip Passalaqua.
SAVES -- S: Will Klein 7; RFH: Will Setteducate 5.