OCEAN TOWNSHIP -- On the offensive end it was Robbie Garavente imposing his will and at the other end it was a tenacious defense locking down a dynamic offense. In a matchup of top five teams in the Shore Conference, Rumson proved it is still very much the team to beat.

Garavente, a senior attackman, scored seven goals and a defense led by junior Emmett Jennings limited Ocean stars Joey Appio and Erik Rant in a 13-4 Shore Conference Class B North victory on Saturday afternoon at Carelli Field.

"We know who they are," Garavente said. "I've been playing summer ball with a bunch of these kids for a while. We knew we had to bear down on defense because they have a couple of really big point scorers in Appio and Rant. They are both doing really well this season so we knew we had to focus on them."

"We knew the goals would come for us."

Junior midfielder Bryan Hess addd two goals and two assists and senior attackman Henry Sillen had three assists as the Bulldogs (9-3, 6-0) took a major step toward securing their sixth straight division title. Junior attackman Charlie Curran had one goal and one assist and Colin Pavluk, Matt Waters and Andrew Walsh each scored once. Senior goalie Kyle Knapp made eight saves and senior Butch Clark went 9 for 15 on face-offs.

Ocean (10-1, 6-1) suffered its first loss of the season. Freshman attackman Holden Lowe scored twice and Appio had three assists. Rant and junior midfielder Connor Daly scored once, and junior goalie David Walk made eight saves.

Rant and Appio are both among the top-15 point scorers in New Jersey. Rant is currently tied for seventh in the state with 45 goals and Appio is second in assists with 45. Appio is a gifted passer and led the Shore Conference in assists last season. His vision and creative ability from X drive Ocean's offense. Jennings was matched up on him for most of the game and did a great job limiting the dangerous playmaker.

"He's a really good player and I played a lot over the summer with him," Jennings said. "We just came together as a unit. Everyone was talking so if he would make a pass everyone had each other's backs. You have to make sure your footwork is all there and you have to land the check when it comes."

Jennings has emerged as one of the best defensemen in the Shore Conference, and his play on Saturday made it obvious why. He was the first to admit it required constant communication among the three poles and Knapp in goal.

"I would let him get the first step and try to get on his hands to disrupt his passing, but it's usually just us talking as a unit," Jennings said. "If I know someone has my back I can get on his hands a lot sooner and play him a lot harder. He has good vision. He caught us backside one time but Ian Clarke was there to get a nice check."

Rumson owned the opening 12 minutes even though it led just 2-1 heading to the second quarter. Garavente and Waters had unassisted goals one minute apart midway through the quarter, and the Bulldogs ended up out-shooting the Spartans 14-1. Lowe's goal off a transition feed from Daly with 2:50 left, however, kept Ocean right there.

Ocean picked up its play in the second quarter, but it was Rumson which extended its lead by scoring four times for a 6-1 halftime edge. Hess sprinted in uncontested and ripped one past Walk at 9:03 for a 3-1 lead. Garavente then scored off a feed from Curran at 6:35 for a three-goal advantage.

Ocean had a chance to close the gap late in the first half when Knapp was called for a slashing penalty with 1:13 left. It was Rumson, however, that was was able to find the back of the net. After an over-and-back call on the Spartans, the Bulldogs played the ball to the crease quickly after the whistle, and Hess threaded a pass to Garavente with 29.5 seconds left for the man-down goal. The pair connected again off the ensuing face-off as Hess won the draw cleanly before dishing to Garavente for his fourth goal with 18.7 seconds left before halftime.

Ocean closed to within 6-3 in the third quarter on goals by Lowe and Rant - both set up by Appio - but that was as close as the Spartans would get. Garavente netted his fifth goal with 2:40 left in the third to start a string of seven consecutive Bulldogs goals.

Sillen fed Garavente for another tally at 11:07 of the fourth and again at the 10-minute mark to make it 9-3. Sillen then dealt a pass to Hess at 9:16 to make it 10-3. The rout was officially on when Curran saw some room and stepped into a shot for a goal just 29 seconds later, stretching the lead to 11-3. Pavluk then tallied at 5:48 before a great one-handed goal by Walsh with 35 seconds left.

Hanna scored off a pass from Appio with six seconds left to cap the scoring.

Rumson needs to defeat Holmdel (3-10) and Long Branch (0-13) to clinch its sixth straight undefeated run through the division. Ocean looks to get back on track with another division game, hosting Red Bank Catholic (7-5) on Monday.

Rumson will likely be the No. 1 seed for the Shore Conference Tournament where it is looking to regain the title after losing to Southern in last season's final. The Bulldogs have reached six straight SCT finals and won four of them. They are also the defending NJSIAA Group I champions looking to win another state title, this time in Group II, and make a deeper run in the Tournament of Champions.

"We came in mature with a lot of guys returning, and I just think throughout the season we've continued to mature as players and as a unit," Garavente said. "Playing against St. Augustine and Bergen Catholic, they're two of the best teams in the state, and I think that's really prepared us for what's to come in the playoffs."



No. 1 Rumson-Fair Haven 13, No. 4 Ocean 4

Rumson (9-3, 6-0) 2 4 1 6 -- 13

Ocean (10-1, 6-1)  1 0 2 1 --  4

GOALS - RFH: Garavente 7, Hess 2, Curran, Waters, Pavluk, Walsh; O: Lowe 2, Rant, Hanna.

ASSISTS - RFH: Sillen 3, Hess 2, Curran, Jennings; O: Appio 3, Daly.

SAVES - RFH: Kyle Knapp 8; O: David Walk 8.

SHOTS: Rumson, 28-22.


Lacrosse editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights. 

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