WindMill Shore Conference Boys Lacrosse Team of the Week: Red Bank Regional
Every week this spring, Shore Sports Network will be selecting the WindMill Boys Lacrosse Team of the Week to recognize their achievements on the field.
The SSN Boys Lacrosse Team of the Week for Week 5 is Red Bank Regional, which authored a tremendous comeback to avenge a regular-season loss and advance to the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2014. Shore Sports Network was at practice Monday to present the Bucs and head coach Matt Norman with a special framed Team of the Week certificate and a WindMill gift card.
Down by five goals to Middletown South in the first round of the SCT on Saturday morning, Red Bank was certainly in a bind. The Bucs were able to look back to their first meeting with the Eagles, however, for reassurance that they weren't done yet.
When the teams met on opening day, Middletown South earned a 10-7 victory. The Eagles led 10-3 in the fourth quarter before Red Bank scored four straight goals. The Bucs knew they had that kind of run in them again, and this time they had more time to work with.
In the rematch, Middletown South's lead grew to 5-0 midway through the second quarter but from that point on, Red Bank completely flipped the script. Senior attackman Ryan McGee got the Bucs on the board with 4:10 left in the half and senior midfielder Nick Walsack scored with 46 seconds left to make it 5-2 at halftime. Two quarters later, the final buzzer sounded and Red Bank had scored seven unanswered goals for a 7-5 win.
"We came out in the second half knowing that we've seen ourselves put goals up against them in the fourth quarter so the game's not over until the final whistle blows," Norman said.
Freshman Andrew Pape scored early in the third quarter to make it 5-3 and McGee scored just over a minute later to make it a 5-4 game. With 5:07 left in the third quarter, McGee netted the game-tying goal. At the 7:26 make of the fourth quarter, McGee sank the go-ahead goal to complete the Bucs' rally. Sophomore Henry Spencer added an insurance goal just 28 seconds later to account for the final scoring margin.
(Video playlist below. Click on the button on the top right to view all 11 video highlights)
"In the first quarter we weren't really taking our matchups as much but in the second half we got going and everything was going right for us," McGee said.
McGee finished four a game-high four goals while Walsack, Pape, and Spencer had one goal each. Senior Nick Weitz also played a big part in the comeback with his face-off work. After losing 4 of 5 draws in the first quarter he went 8-for-10 over the final three quarters.
"It starts at the face-off X and Nick Weitz really took over today," said senior Gordon Ogden. "We had Ryan McGee dominating and the defense in front of me stepped up when the time came. We played a team game."
Odgen was fantastic in goal with 12 saves, including several clutch stops in the fourth quarter. The senior is a standout long-stick midfielder who is signed to play collegiately at Division 1 Jacksonville University but suffered an injury early in the season that limited him in the field. The Bucs decided to put him in goal and the results have been excellent. In five starts between the pipes, he's made 67 saves with a save percentage of 64 percent. He also has three goals, seven assists, and 22 ground balls.
"He got injured early on and the plan was to put him in goal to reduce the mileage on him but I think he's putting more on himself at this point," Norman said. "He has done a tremendous job in there and he gives us another element to the defense and to our transition offense. A lot of teams aren't expecting your goalie to jump out and press transition like."
"I played goalie a little bit in seventh grade for my spring team, but I've wanted to be a goalie my whole life and no one has really let me," Ogden said. "It's awesome, I love it."
With his defensive acumen, stick skills, and athleticism it's like having a fifth pole back there who can quarterback the entire unit.
"He talks up our guys and is a second coach on the field, essentially," Norman said. "We have a lot of trust in him."
Offensively, the Bucs are averaging 11.5 goals per game. McGee is among the Shore's top scorers with 50 goals and 22 assists for 72 points. Sophomores Ryder Villani (33 goals and 20 assists) and Henry Spencer (29 goals and 15 assists) and freshman Andrew Pape (24 goals and 25 assists) have each had strong debut seasons.
In total, Red Bank went 3-0 during Week 5 with a win Neptune and an 11-5 victory over rival Red Bank Catholic to improve to 9-5 on the season. The victory over Middletown South was of course the highlight. The Eagles entered the game ranked No. 6 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 while Red Bank was ranked ninth. In the latest SSN Top 10, Red Bank moved up to No. 8 in the Shore.
"No better feeling," McGee said. "This is my fourth year on varsity and we've never done anything like this before. It's been almost a decade since RBR has done this (reach SCT quarterfinals) so it's just a great way to go out my senior year."
On Tuesday, Red Bank will head up Ridge Road to take on top-ranked and undefeated Rumson-Fair Haven in the SCT quarterfinals. To say the Bucs have a tall task ahead of them would be an understatement. RFH is ranked No. 5 in New Jersey and won the regular-season meeting by a score of 15-2. But for the Bucs, it's another opportunity to do something special.
"We understand what Rumson has," Norman said. "We'll prepare and we'll come out ready to get after it. We never count ourselves out. You play the games for a reason."
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