Delbarton falls short against L.I. power
Delbarton has always thrived off closing out opponents in tight games, doing just enough in the gut-wrenching waning minutes to overcome any foe. Such is the formula for a program that has rattled off 13 state titles, 11 conference championships and just as many Morris County crowns.
But the beginning of the 2012 campaign has proven even the best boys lacrosse teams in the Garden State can suffer defeat – no matter the level of fight -- at crucial moments. Look no further than the Green Wave’s season-opener in which they fell, 5-4, in five overtimes to Ridgewood.
Several days later, it was more of the same. Delbarton put forth a valiant effort, but ultimately came up short in the final minutes of a 10-9 setback against Long Island powerhouse St. Anthony's, ranked No. 1 in the MSG Varsity Tri-State Top 14, in MSG Varsity's Game of the Week on Saturday afternoon.
Duke-bound star John Shaffer and Connor Bilby each netted two goals for the Green Wave, who dropped to 1-2 three days after cruising past West Essex, 19-5. Cole Riccardi, JP Campbell, Kieran Kenny, Sean Onderdonk, and Dillon Confalone also tallied.
Sean McDonough, a Harvard recruit, and Brian Sherlock led the way for the Friars with three goals apiece.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Bilby said. “This is just more fuel to prove that we can beat any team. It was a hard-fought game and even though we didn’t come out on top, it showed we can play with any team in the country.”
Delbarton had already gotten a glimpse of how potent Long Island lacrosse teams could be, when it came out with a 9-8 win over Garden City in the preseason. But this contest was obviously more magnified and, in a way, gave the losing team a heavy dose of confidence.
Coping with the loss of All-State defenseman Jack Briet, who graduated last spring and is now playing at Harvard, hasn’t been easy for the Green Wave, but having the fifth-best team in America on the ropes says a lot.
“It showed we have to come out ready to play, whether it’s against an in-state team or not,” Shaffer said. “This game motivated us, though. It’s still early and obviously we played a very good team. We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”
St. Anthony's answered Shaffer’s first tally of the game by scoring three straight in a five-minute span to close the first quarter. Delbarton stayed within striking distance and later trailed, 5-3, at the half.
After Sherlock handed the Friars a 7-4 advantage with 3:14 to go in the third, Kenny and Onderdonk found the open net just six seconds apart to enable the Green Wave to enter the fourth trailing by one.
Shaffer knotted the contest at 7-7 with 8:43 remaining, but Sherlock reclaimed the lead nearly three minutes later and McDonough doubled the cushion shortly thereafter. Once again, Delbarton wouldn’t go away quietly, as Confalone applied more pressure with his goal, which made it 9-8.
Dylan Molloy capitalized on a much-needed insurance tally with 2:07 left and ultimately lifted St. Anthony because Bilby blasted one past goalkeeper Eric Caliendo with 49.4 seconds to go.
“Unfortunately we lost, but it’s a game that is going to prepare us for the season,” Shaffer said. “They’re a talented team, but there’s definitely a lesson to be learned from today.”
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter