FARMINGDALE — With his team down by three entering the fourth quarter, Howell head coach Anthony Bonjavanni figured his team had good chance to come back and take the lead, mostly because he knew his guys weren’t going to go down easy.

After Southern had scored five of the last six goals to move ahead going into the final 12 minutes, the Rebels put together a furious run of their own by scoring six times in the fourth quarter to rally past the Rams, 11-9, and earn an encouraging Shore Conference nondivisional victory on opening day.

Senior attackman Ryan Damelio scored a team-high four goals, including the game-tying and go-ahead goals in the fourth quarter, and junior long-stick midfielder Sean Mylod’s goal held up as the game-winning tally. Senior attackman Drew Bukowiec added two goals and two assists, senior midfielder Nico Lorenzo sank a pair of goals in the second quarter, senior midfielder Jake Goldberg scored during the fourth-quarter rally and sophomore attackman Joey Sorrentino notched his first career varsity goal. Junior Nick Roberto made 13 saves.

“We have some pretty tough kids, some resilient kids,” Bonjavanni said. “Heads don’t go down. It was about sticking to it and staying the course. We try to let our kids be athletes so we pushed it in transition and tried to take advantage of situations.”

“Our coaches got us pumped up and in the fourth we were just feeling it,” Damelio said. “We kept putting the ball in the back of the net.”

Southern senior midfielder Will Johnson led all players with five goals while senior attackman Kyle Mulrane scored twice and Nick Fontana had two goals and two assist. Tristan Farina stopped 14 shots for the Rams.

Midway through the second quarter Southern scored three straight goals to take a 6-4 lead, but Lorenzo struck with 38 seconds left in the first half to make it a one-goal game at halftime.

The Rams would score the only two goals of the third quarter, however, to take an 8-5 lead going into the fourth. Johnson scored at 7:06 when there was some miscommunication between the Howell defense that left Roberto out of the net. Mulrane blasted a shot just under the crossbar on an extra-man opportunity with 49 seconds left in the third.

When the fourth quarter started something clicked for Howell, and the result was two goals in the first 1:52, then two more to take the lead for good halfway through the final period. Freshman midfielder Vaughn Meehan set up Bukowiec at 11:09 to make it 8-6, then Goldberg scored unassisted at 10:08 to cut Howell’s deficit to one.

“You always want to score quick,” Damelio said. “If we don’t get those two right away who knows how the game would have ended.”

Less than three minutes later Howell tied the game when Ryan Choffey fed Damelio for the game-tying goal. The go-ahead goal came in transition as Mylod found Damelio on the doorstep with 5:49 left in regulation.

The Howell bench went bonkers when, off the ensuing face-off, Mylod picked up a ground ball, raced into the box and ripped a shot into the back of the net for a 10-8 lead. It was Mylod’s second career goal.

“It’s big to get goals in unconventional ways like having your LSM breaking down the field” Bonjavanni said. “Sean is a put-his-head-down-and-run-through-a-ground-ball type of player.”

Johnson scored his fifth goal of the game to make it 10-9 with 4:37 left, but Howell ran a wheel play that resulted in Sorrentino scoring off a pass from Damelio with 2:21 to play. That was enough to hold off the Rams and complete the comeback.

“Obviously (Southern) has been a head of us the last few years and that’s why you play them, they’re a measuring stick,” Bonjavanni said. “(Head coach) John (Pampalone) does a great job and their kids are always prepared. There’s something down in that Southern water where every single year they’re tough. Any time you can start the season 1-0 and in a big Shore game, it’s momentum.”

The Rebels’ team chemistry and ability to absorb some new coaching concepts was also a big part of the win on Wednesday.

“We’ve had some changes to our staff, so credit my assistants Filippone, Provow, Cooper and Bruckner for getting these guys to buy in.”


Box Score

Howell 11, Southern 9

Southern (0-1) 3 3 2 1 —  9

Howell (1-0)     3 2 0 6 — 11

GOALS — S: Will Johnson 5, Kyle Mulrane 2, Nick Fontana 2; H: Ryan Damelio 4, Drew Bukowiec 2, Nico Lorenzo 2, Jake Goldberg, Sean Mylod, Joey Sorrentino.

ASSISTS — S: Nick Fontana 2, Dylan Smith; H: Ryan Damelio 2, Drew Bukowiec 2, Sean Mylod, Vaughn Meehan.

SAVES — S: Tristan Farina 14; H: Nick Roberto 13.

SHOTS: Southern, 27-26.


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