CBA stands tall, defeats Red Bank Catholic
An early, multiple-goal lead is always a pleasant development no matter how it gets established.
But when that quick separation is accomplished with both patience and balance, the pressure on the opposing defense magnifies and the likelihood of complete breakdown is greatly reduced.
Such was the case Monday afternoon when seventh-seeded Christian Brothers Academy built a four-goal lead in the opening quarter with the help of four scorers and withstood a strong comeback effort to defeat 10th-seeded Red Bank Catholic, 9-5, in the first round of the NJSIAA Non-Public A tournament at Count Basie Field in Red Bank.
Christian Brothers was the home team as the higher seed, but rainy conditions made the artificial surface at Basie a more practical option.
Sophomores Matt McGuiness and Thomas Deiner netted two goals apiece and senior Donny Finn contributed one goal and two assists to pace an offense that used economy and unselfishness to advance to the quarterfinal round against second-seeded Delbarton, No. 7 in The MSG Varsity Power Rankings, Wednesday in Morris Township.
"A lot of these guys weren't really here (on varsity) last year, but they've stepped up," Finn said. Stepping up is something Finn--headed for St. Joseph in Philadelphia--has done for quite some time. He has recorded over 250 career points and has wielded a hot stick in recent weeks for the surging Colts (14-3), who've won 11 of their last 12 games.
"It's good to get the other guys the ball and see what they can do with it; it's always a lot better when everybody has a goal," he said. "When Luke Habich or Tom Deiner step up and take my role, it helps a lot. When I'm shut off, they can just do their work and we don't lose any offense."
Deiner wasn't even part of the early scoring stance, hitting both his goals in the second half to help keep RBC at a reasonable distance. He opened a 7-2 lead off a pass by Habich with 3:55 to go in the third quarter and forged an 8-4 advantage with a strong dodge from behind the cage 1:20 into the fourth.
Habich ignited CBA's strong first quarter when he dodged in the box and cranked in a left-handed shot from seven yards out to tie the game at 1-1 exactly 4:00 into play. Red Bank Catholic (11-6) had grabbed the lead :30 earlier on a goal by Mike Convery.
Just 21 seconds after Habich's goal, Finn completed a fast break that began with a ground ball by defenseman Matt Friesenhahn, and Thomas Palisi followed with 6:24 to go when he turned and fired from seven yards away off an entry feed by Nicholas Gazzillo.
McGuiness connected twice in the last 2:07 of the quarter off feeds by Gazzillo and Finn.
"That was really important," McGuiness said of the Colts' early burst. "We wanted to get out and get a lead on them so we could keep momentum in our favor and not let them back in the game."
Red Bank Catholic did settle into a solid overall game after that first quarter, but found a resilient and adaptable CBA club holding it down at almost every promising turn. Still, it was the first-quarter offense that set the tone for the Colts.
"There were about five, six minutes in the first quarter where they won every possession, every faceoff, every ground ball and we had trouble clearing the ball," RBC head coach Ryan Eichner said. "That ended up being the difference in the game.
"We made some adjustments defensively and kind of changed things a little bit and caused them a little bit of trouble," he said. "But CBA got that little bit of a lead and were kind of patient after that. We pushed out to get the ball back again, things opened up and they took advantage of that."
Senior middie Frank Gabriel trimmed RBC's deficit to 7-3 when he scored his first of two goals with 2:41 to go in the third quarter, and the Caseys pulled to within three goals 20 seconds into the fourth with a 15-yard blast by Doug Whitlock off a feed from Andrew Porzio.
Confidence was definitely up and hope strong along the RBC sideline. But then Christian Brothers won the ensuing faceoff and Deiner struck 1:00 later for that four-goal lead.
"That early lead was big," Finn said. "They could come back with four straight goals and it would be tied and then the momentum would be going their way. They had those two quick goals (making it 7-4) and were coming right back. We had to keep it going, but also had to be smart and not just take a bunch of stupid shots."
The Colts actually unleashed a number of high-percentage shots in the third quarter, but were turned away six times by RBC goalie Chet Tooker. The senior halted several attempts at point-blank range and finished the game with 11 saves. Trigani had six for CBA, three in the second quarter to help his Colts take a 6-2 lead into the half.
"When we had possession, we had great looks at the goal, but we just couldn't finish some and Trigani made good saves in there," Eichner said. "I wish a couple more shots fell down there, but I'm very proud of my guys. CBA beat us 11-3 last time (May 2 in the regular season), and we made it a game this time. They got more possessions than we did. They finished their shots and we didn't."
Mike Kinney covers boys lacrosse for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS