Shore Sports Network logo
Get our free mobile app

MIDDLETOWN -- Trailing by two goals at halftime to host Middletown South, the question wasn't whether Point Boro could compete with the Eagles, an annual top-10 team in the Shore Conference. The question was whether the Panthers could clean up their unforced errors and begin to capitalize on their opportunities.

The answer was a resounding yes.

Junior attackman Brady Kirk scored four goals and assisted on three more and senior midfielder Robert Trapanese delivered two goals and three assists as the Panthers outscored the Eagles by seven goals in the second half to escape The Swamp with a pivotal 12-7 Shore Conference Colonial Division victory on Monday evening.

Middletown South led 3-1 after the first quarter and 6-4 at halftime before Point Boro (6-2, 2-2) scored five times in the third quarter to take a 9-6 lead. It was a cushion the black and gold would not relinquish as the Panthers answered an early fourth-quarter strike from Middletown South with the game's final three goals. Senior midfielder Matt Woit finished with two goals and one assist and seniors Logan Letts and Gavin Reid each scored twice.

The defense, led by senior LSM Dennis Glynn and senior defenseman Owen Deweysockie with four ground balls each, limited Middletown South to only one goal in the second half. Senior goalie Colin Cole made 11 saves to backstop the victory.

"The biggest thing at halftime was just keeping our composure," Glynn said. "There were a lot of flags throughout the game and it got really chippy. We just got together as a team, senior Grayson Ritter brought us together about playing tough and not playing scared. Frankly, I thought we were the underdogs coming into the game but we kept level heads and that's really what got us through this game."

"I think we were shooting ourselves in the foot there in the first half but we cleaned it up and came out strong in the second half," said Point Boro head coach Pat Brady.


Bob Badders |
Bob Badders |

The teams combined for 14 penalties in the game, including nine by Middletown South. Point Boro took advantage by going 6-for-9 with the extra man, and three of those goals came in the final five minutes of the third quarter when the Panthers surged ahead. Point Boro also had a clutch penalty kill at the end of the third quarter when Middletown South had a 6-on-4 advantage for 30 seconds.

Senior Jake Sawyer led Middletown South with three goals and senior defenseman Owen Richter had a goal and 14 ground balls. Sophomore Luke Gaffney had a goal and an assist, freshman Ryan Colacichi and sophomore defenseman Matt Hrehowsik each scored once, and sophomore Jackson O'Keefe had two assists. Senior goalie Sean Burns made six saves. Middletown South senior attackman Logan Bailin, the team's leading scorer, did not play.

Although it will need some help, the victory kept Point Boro in the mix for the Colonial Division title with some important games remaining on the schedule.

"In previous years we'd either win by a lot or lose by a lot, so this year, to have these big games, it feels great to win this one," Kirk said. "We had a hard loss to RBC so coming out here and getting this one gives us such a good feeling that we're improving as a program."

Kirk, who last week became Point Boro's all-time leader in points while reaching milestones of 100 career goals, 100 career assists, and 200 career points, had another strong game to lead the Panthers' offense. More impressive was that the Marist commit did it while being matched up against a fellow Division 1 recruit, Middletown South standout senior defenseman and Brown University commit Owen Richter. Kirk now has 27 goals and 22 assists in eight games this season.

Kirk's seven points were not going to do the job by themselves, however, so the balanced secondary scoring and playmaking the Panthers received was critical. Unlike Kirk, a lifelong lacrosse player, most of Point Boro's starters didn't begin playing lacrosse until high school. The learning curve has been steep, but the progress has been evident for the current seniors.

"One thing coach Brady says is to have confidence in your stick, so having all these guys put it in the net boosts their confidence," Kirk said. "First quarter you might still have those butterflies and drop a couple passes so getting them going gives them confidence and everyone feeds off it."

"This team is senior heavy and most of them started playing when they were freshmen," Brady said. "It's fun to watch them develop from that time to now where they're able to compete and score and move the ball the way they do. They have bonded together and you see the result on the field."

Woit gave Point Boro a quick 1-0 lead with an assist going to Trapanese but Middletown South (3-3, 2-2) answered on an EMO goal by Richter. Sawyer then scored unassisted for a 2-1 Eagles lead and he scored again off a pass from Jackson O'Keefe to give Middletown South a 3-1 lead after the first quarter.

The teams traded goals throughout the second quarter as every time Point Boro would inch closer, Middletown South would respond almost immediately. Kirk fed Letts inside for an EMO goal at 9:56 of the second quarter but Colacichi scored on a pass from O'Keefe off the ensuing face-off to put the Eagles up 4-2. It happened again after Kirk scored an unassisted goal to make it 4-3 when sophomore defenseman Matt Hrehowsick picked up a ground ball off the face-off and scored in transition. Kirk set up Letts for another man-up goal with 4:48 to play in the half, but just over a minute later sophomore Luke Gaffney scored to keep Middletown South up by two.

The momentum completely swung Point Boro's way in the third quarter with Kirk scoring at 10:06 and Trapanese scoring off an assist from Ritter to tie the score 6-6 with 8:10 on the clock. Reid tallied an extra-man goal off an assist from Kirk at 5:26, Trapanese scored unassisted on an EMO at 1:50, and Kirk converted a a pass from Trapanese with 1:27 to play in the third for a 9-6 Panthers advantage.

"They were pressing out on our hands a lot (in the first half) so at halftime we told everyone to just relax; run away, move the ball," Kirk said. "Once we put one in the momentum started going our way and everything started falling for us."

Point Boro's settled 6-on-6 defense was strong in the first half allowing just three goals. The penalty kill combined with limiting Middletown South's chances in transition also helped turn the tide in the final two quarters as the the Panthers continued to take away the Eagles' time and space.


Bob Badders |
Bob Badders |

"With our 6-on-6 defense we had great communication and a great game plan going in thanks to the coaches," Glynn said. "We're down to maybe our sixth pole now because of injuries so the biggest thing is communication. Coach O'Heney is really good at calling stuff out from the sideline and making sure we know what we're doing. A couple of times we were man down or double man down and we kept our composure."

Sawyer's EMO goal off a pass from Gaffney at 9:39 of the fourth quarter halted Point Boro's five-goal run and pulled Middletown South within two goals at 9-7. That was as close as the Eagles would get, however, as Woit scored his second from Trapanese at 5:09, Reid scored unassisted at 2:21, and Kirk put the finishing touches on an impressive victory with an EMO goal off an assist from Trapanese with 1:27 to play.

Like many programs in the Shore, Point Boro does not have a long or storied boys lacrosse tradition. It's a building process, and Monday's victory serves as another block of concrete to fortify their foundation. Before the divisional realignment that produced the current Shore Conference divisions, Point Boro was a middle-of-the-pack Class B South team, certainly not in the league of Manasquan or Wall but a step above a few teams in the division. They had maybe two or three competitive division games per season. Now they are in a situation where they know they have a shot every game against a solid schedule, and it's bringing out the best in the Panthers.

"When we're playing well we can compete with anyone on our schedule," Brady said.

"100 percent. Instead of winning by a lot or losing by a lot, these games are building a culture," Kirk said. "It shows how we're climbing the ranks and hopefully we continue to do that in the years to come."


Bob Badders |
Bob Badders |



More From Shore Sports Network