Three Goals Each From Lombardi and Grella, Dominant Face-off Work by Pelago Lead Toms River North Past No. 7 Brick Memorial
TOMS RIVER — Against a veteran Brick Memorial offense that featured several players capable of leading the charge, Toms River North knew it had to be smart about its possessions and control the ball as much as possible. It was a simple and obvious gameplan, and also one that was executed to near perfection on Saturday morning.
Senior attackman Andrew Lombardi scored three goals with two assists and senior midfielder Alex Grella also scored three goals with one assist as the Mariners took down Brick Memorial, ranked No. 7 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, 10-6 in a Shore Conference Class A South game at Gernerd Field. Junior attackman Brandon Indelicato added two goals while Hayden Baranker and Travis Krysiewicz tallied once for Toms River North.
The Mariners had a huge possession advantage thanks to the play of senior face-off midfielder Dylan Pelago, who won 15 of 19 draws, including going 7-0 in the third quarter when Toms River North broke the game open with five goals. The Mariners held a 37-18 advantage in shots over the Mustangs.
Senior midfielder Mike Mowder scored a game-high four goals to lead Brick Memorial, while sophomore attackman Joey Ferrera had a goal and two assists and senior attackman Henry Moran scored once.
“The whole game plan was to shut down their two senior attackmen (Gavin Murphy and Moran) and settle the ball on offense,” said Toms River North head coach Howard Baranker. “Dylan Pelago did a very good job on face-offs and our defense shut them down.”
“They definitely had a better offense than teams we’d seen this year so we had to control the ball more,” Lombardi said. “We had two work it around, maybe twice, and make the extra pass rather than taking risky shots and giving the ball back to them.”
Toms River North limited its unforced errors while taking advantage of missed passes, communication breakdowns and a total of seven penalties committed by Brick Memorial (2-2, 0-1). Toms River North (3-1, 2-0) scored a few goals in transition and also scored three times on extra-man opportunities.
“We definitely capitalized on their mistakes,” Lombardi said. “If they threw the ball away or had a penalty we knew we had to jump on those opportunities.”
“We don’t have the size but we do have the speed,” Baranker said. “We have to get up and down the field.”
Brick Memorial opened the scoring just 51 seconds into the game when Mowder blasted a shot past Toms River North goalie Noah Squires, but from there it was all Mariners. Grella scored a pair of man-up goals off assists from Baranker and Lombardi to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead after the first quarter.
Grella bucks the trend of speed over size for the Mariners. A senior who didn’t play last season, he gives Toms River North a physical presence with his sturdy frame. A few times he simply ran through Brick Memorial defenders trying to alter his path to the net.
“He’s a powerhouse,” Baranker said. “They have to get two guys on him right away.”
Lombardi’s unassisted goal 4:48 into the second quarter gave the Mariners a 3-1 lead, but Mowder got one back with another big shot from the top of the box with 56 seconds left in the half.
Toms River North started to pull away in the third quarter when Lombardi scored off an assist from Baranker at 1:54 and Indelicato tallied 20 seconds later to make it 5-2. Brick Memorial came back less than two minutes later when Ferrera set Mowder up for his third goal, but unassisted goals by Baranker and Grella, followed by Lombardi feeding Indelicato at 10:14, put the Mariners ahead 8-3.
Ferrera scored late in the third quarter and Moran scored off a pass from Murphy early in the fourth quarter to pull Brick Memorial within 8-5. Toms River North never let the Mustangs get any closer, however, as Lombardi scored unassisted with the extra man and Krysiewicz struck with 2:49 left to close out the victory.
After suffering some injuries and falling to Holmdel in their second game, the Mariners have bounced back with a pair of key division wins over Brick and Brick Memorial, and seem to have found their groove with the current lineup.
“Some seniors going down early in the season hurt us a lot, but now everybody’s filling in and picking up the slack,” Baranker said.
“We’re still not where we want to be and there’s things we need to put together to be a full team,” Lombardi said. “We’re missing some key kids and once they get back I feel like we can gel and make a run.”
Toms River North 10, Brick Memorial 6
Brick Memorial (2-2, 0-1) 1 1 2 2 — 6
Toms River North (3-1, 3-0) 2 1 5 2 — 10
GOALS — BM: Mike Mowder 4, Joey Ferrera, Henry Moran: TRN: Andrew Lombardi 3, Alex Grella 3, Brandon Indelicato 2, Hayden Baranker, Travis Krysiewicz.
ASSISTS — BM: Joey Ferrera 2, Gavin Murphy; TRN: Andrew Lombardi 2, Hayden Baranker 2, Alex Grella.
SAVES — BM: Matt Wood 9; TRN: Noah Squires 5.
SHOTS — Toms River North, 37-18.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights