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WALL TOWNSHIP – In its first game in 703 days, Wall played like a team trying to make up for lost time every time it touched the ball.

The Crimson Knights kick-started their 2021 lacrosse season with a flourish in a top-five matchup with Southern Regional, erupting for 13 goals in the first half on their way to a 16-6 Shore Conference nondivisional victory on Tuesday afternoon at the Wall Athletic Complex. The Knights, ranked No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, showcased a deep and talented offense that overwhelmed the No. 5 Rams in the first half.

Senior attackman and Rutgers commit Logan Peters picked up right where he left off after his tremendous sophomore season with four goals and four assists, sophomore attackman John McCurry flashed in his varsity debut with four goals and two assists and junior midfielder and Army commit Matt Dollive delivered three goals and three assists. Wall had possession most of the afternoon thanks to senior Kyle Wenzel, who dominated the face-off X by winning 18 of 24 draws and also scored a goal.

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“Just putting on this jersey again felt great,” Peters said.  “It’s been a really long time and it just felt great to get back out there and play. We got off to a great start and everything was clicking for us.”

“This was our first game since we lost to Hopewell Valley on this field, so we came in hungry,” Dollive said. “We put in lots of work in the offseason, captain’s practices, shooting at the fields at random Saturday mornings. It all came together at game time.”

Wall’s defense was also solid with juniors Charlie Sasso and Brian Byrne along with sophomores Billy Carr and Dom Giglio in front of junior goalie Aiden Kessler, who finished with eight saves and a 57 percent save percentage.

Additionally, Tuesday marked career win No. 1 for head coach Victor Rivera. The former assistant took over last season for Chris Knight, who was the first and only coach in Wall history before stepping down following the 2019 season.

“It’s a little surreal, to be honest,” Rivera said. “I always wanted to be a head coach and when I got the opportunity last year it was hard losing the season, especially for those seniors. I hope we made them proud today. And I really wanted to get this one for coach Knight, who did a tremendous job these past 12 years building this program. Myself, coach (Dan) O’Heney, we want to make him proud and continue building on top of what he already built.”

After a back and forth first few minutes, Wall struck first on an unassisted goal by McCurry at 7:53. Just nine seconds later, Wenzel won the face-off clean and dished to Daniel Burns on a fast break. Burns’ shot was stopped by Southern goalie Tyler Sininsky but Wenzel snatched the rebound out of the air and flicked it in for a 2-0 lead. A push-with-possession penalty on Southern gave Wall a 30-second man advantage and the Knights capitalized when Peters dished from X to a cutting McCurry, who buried the feed at the 7:03 mark.

Wall’s lead grew to 4-0 when Peters dodged his defender and ripped a 15-yard bounce shot past Sininsky at 6:30. Less than 90 seconds later, Brice lost his man and cut to the net and Peters, with his back to the goal, turned and found the wide-open middie for an easy dunk that gave Wall a 5-0 lead after the first quarter.

“Last Saturday we (scrimmaged) CBA and nothing was really clicking for us, so the next few days in practice we locked in and we were really going over our spots,” Peters said. “We know we have the guys, we just have to be in the right spots. Most of our goals today were assisted and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Wall blew the game open in the first 2:28 of the second quarter. McCurry scored a man-up goal 17 seconds into the quarter for a 6-0 lead before Peters scored two goals and then set up Pat Donohue for a goal that made it 9-0 at the 9:32 mark of the second quarter. Southern finally got on the board with two goals in a span of 52 seconds by junior midfielder Ryan Sininsky but Wall came right back with goals by Dollive, Peters and Dollive again to extend its lead to 12-2.

Wall took a 13-3 lead into halftime.

In the first half, Wenzel was 13-for-17 on face-offs. He won the clamp clean on several draws but also received great support from the wings. He lost just two draws in the second half.

“It was massive for us,” Peters said. “When he’s winning face-offs and we have possession that’s the biggest thing for us.”

“The more Kyle does, the more we do,” Dollive said.

In 2019, Wenzel won 61 percent of his face-offs while his counterpart on Tuesday, Southern senior Drew Wasacz, won 60 percent.

“Going in we knew Southern was bringing back a senior who won 60 percent of his face-offs a couple years ago, so two years removed we knew he was going to come in better,” Rivera said. “Kyle gave us such an edge with what he did at the face-off X. It just shows you how important that is. That’s why he’s one of our captains and he’s going to be big for us moving forward.”

The game was mostly even in the second half as the well-coached Rams adjusted and were much more settled in their defensive end, despite Wenzel still controlling the face-off circle. Southern scored three times in the third quarter to close the gap to 14-6 but Wall played a controlled and deliberate fourth quarter, scored the only two goals of the final period and walked away with an impressive victory.

“They are fundamental and well-coached,” Peters said of Southern. “We knew if we stayed true to our game and ran our offense we have the firepower that we could put up goals like we did.”

The season that felt like it would never arrive is finally here. There’s a long, long way to go before we really get to know what every team is, but Wall started its season, one with high expectations, about as well as it could have hoped.

“It’s a great group of guys, a young team that always gives a ton of energy and never gets down on themselves,” Rivera said. “It was just exciting being out there playing the game we love. Getting the win was the icing on the cake.”

 

Box Score

Wall 16, Southern 6

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Southern (0-1)03306
Wall (1-0)581216


GOALS – W: Logan Peters 4, John McCurry 4, Matt Dollive 3, Pat Donohue 2, Kyle Wenzel, Ryan Brice, Daniel Burns; S: Ryan Sininsky 2, Joey DeYoung 2, Zach Washco, Andrew Mulholland.

ASSISTS – W: Logan Peters 4, Matt Dollive 3, John McCurry 2, Ryan Brice, Daniel Burns, Connor Moore; S: Luke Bruther, Ryan Sininsky.

SAVES – W: Aiden Kessler, 8: S: Tyler Sininsky, 8

FACE-OFFS – W: Kyle Wenzel, 18/24; S: Drew Wasacz, 3/11; Kurt Falk, 3/9, JT Hille, 0/2, Chris Laureigh, 0/2

SHOTS – Wall, 35-23.

 

Lacrosse: Wall vs. Southern

 

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