Don Bosco blanks St. Joe's in Non-Public A
If Don Bosco Prep's rousing victory over St. Joseph taught us nothing else about the Ironmen--and that is highly unlikely--there is at least this one little pearl to consider:
We should never infer about Bosco that a lack of scheduled games over a prolonged period somehow equates to a lack of hardy competition.
Clearly, things like skills, endurance and resilience are being tested as much--if not more--in a routine Don Bosco practice as they are against opponents from other schools.
Because the undefeated and top-seeded Ironmen, No. 2 in The MSG Varsity Power Rankings, had gone two full weeks without playing a game, but somehow made it look as if they'd spent the time doing nothing but that.
Brady Wulster sank two of his three goals in the first quarter to steer Don Bosco to a five-goal lead and Max Allen and Conor Scavone also netted three goals each to spearhead a 15-0 victory over its Metuchen-based opponent Wednesday afternoon in the NJSIAA Non-Public A quarterfinals at Granatell Stadium in Ramsey.
"Practice got us ready," senior defenseman Brian Kittredge said after helping the Ironmen post their second shutout this season. But the first came against an inexperienced Old Tappan club. This one was pitched against a team that averages 11 goals a game and won the Middlesex County championship just five days earlier.
"Our coaches expect a lot from us in practice and we go out there every day and work hard," he said. "We were out here a long time practicing the last two weeks; it's paying off."
A two-week hiatus from live play would make any respectable group of athletes a little jumpy about returning to the field. But that was not the case for Bosco (17-0), which was tight-knit, smooth and highly efficient right from the start.
"It's what we do in practice," Allen said. "We’re always shooting, always working on our stick skills. We work on it every day, hitting the net, hitting the corners, all that good stuff."
Wulster launched this offensive explosion 1:50 into the game when he converted a feed by Mike D'Allessandro. Just seconds before that goal, William Collopy turned away two well-placed shots by St. Joseph on the doorstep of his cage. He did not have to make another save the rest of the half, though Jimmy Danaher had two in the third quarter and Frank DiGiacomo one in the fourth to team up for the shutout.
Alex Henthorn, Allen and Scavone each scored in the first quarter to forge a 5-0 lead that would balloon to 10-0 by the half. D'Allessandro sank consecutive goals in the first 2:47 of the period and Jack Ray, Nick Buchanan and Allen all followed. Their club outshot St. Joseph, 27-5, in the half and was 33-8 for the game.
"We just wanted to come out flying like we always do," Allen said. "Get a few goals early, get a little cushion and just possess the ball and keep putting it in the net."
That indeed has been the general course of action for Don Bosco, which averages 13.3 goals a game and has yielded double digits only once this season, a 15-10 victory over St. Peter's Prep May 6. The Ironmen have surrendered only 4.5 goals a game with the help of Kittredge, John Petzold, Anthony Falco, Erik Cannon, and those three talented junior goalies.
"When we shut someone down like this, it's the whole team defense that stops them; it's never just one guy," Kittredge said. "And the offense helps the defense, too. They've been helping us all season. Anytime they can hold the ball for four-five minutes like they did here, it's going to give us some rest and help us win the game."
Don Bosco's previous game had been an 8-4 victory over Ridgewood May 12 for its first Bergen County Tournament crown. The Ironmen rolled by Bergen Catholic, 12-4, in the semifinals two days earlier and had played three games in the five days leading up to Bergen semi.
Don Bosco suddenly went from that dense, challenging schedule to a half-month of preparation for one game. It was no vacation, though, with head coach Mike Springer.
"We did a lot of running and training," Wulster said. "We pretty much just came out here every day and worked really hard. There were days we were out there like three and a half hours scrimmaging. It was just a lot of work."
The work was grueling, not only because of Springer's high standards, but because of the expectations the players had for one another. They made big demands all the time, but usually saved the biggest ones for themselves.
"We went hard," Wulster said. "Nothing's personal out here, so we pretty much took it to each other on both sides of the field. We have to always be competitive like that. We can't take any plays off. We always have to have our eyes on the prize."
Don Bosco will play in the semifinals Saturday in Ramsey against the winner of the quarterfinal game Thursday between fifth-seeded St. Peter's Prep and fourth-seeded Seton Hall Prep in West Orange. St. Joseph, the Non-Public A champion in 2010, finished its season at 12-10.
Mike Kinney covers boys lacrosse for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS