The seniors may not have the majority voice among Kinnelon's rotation of regulars, but they certainly found ways to make themselves heard loud and clear Tuesday against Morristown.
Seniors Kobi Frankel, Mike Maniero and Greg Budd not only conducted all the scoring for the Colts, they did so with drama and style while classmates Dan Elstien and Robert Zybrick helped stifle a highly capable offense with their defensive play.
Kinnelon rallied with three goals in the final 3:21 of regulation, two by Frankel, and Budd connected on an isolation sweep 35 seconds into overtime to post a 6-5 upset over Morristown, No. 11 in The MSG Varsity Power Rankings, at Fred Morse Field in Kinnelon.
Kinnelon, which started last season 0-4, improved to 2-0 while Morristown (1-2) lost its second one-goal game this young season. The Colonials fell to Glen Ridge, 8-7, on Saturday.
"Our seniors came through; they scored the goals and made the big plays we needed," Kinnelon head coach Kevin Kelly said. "We didn't panic at the end when we were down. We had our calls and knew what we had to do."
Senior leadership was certainly a determining factor behind Kinnelon's stirring comeback, which started with Frankel--who customarily plays attack--dodging from the top of the box and bouncing a 12-yarder on the run to pull the Colts to within 5-3 with 3:21 left in the fourth period. Frankel drove in his fourth goal of the game on an almost identical play 38 seconds later, and Maniero tied things at 5-5 with a 15-yard sizzler from the right wing with 23 seconds remaining.
But those shots (at least one or two) might never have been attempted if not for the outstanding faceoff work of sophomore Steve Landsburg, who won three of the last four draws of the last quarter and also claimed the faceoff to start overtime. Kinnelon called timeout and Budd scored off the restart with a rocket from 13 yards out.
Also, Landsburg's late faceoffs might not have been so meaningful if not for the eight saves recorded by sophomore goalie John Calia, or the tough defense and ground ball work of sophomore pole Andrew Park.
In other words, the seniors made themselves very prominent with the game on the line, but Kinnelon reached that line behind some surprisingly poised play throughout by many of the younger Colts.
"Our defense and middies played really well and we've got some young guys there," Budd said. "And Calia in net, he's a wall. Our defense is solid. We just had to keep playing hard on offense to put them away."
That prospect did not appear likely when talented Steven Delargy fired in two of his three goals in the first 8:17 of the fourth quarter to extend Morristown's lead to 5-2. Frankel had cut the lead to 3-2 with an unassisted goal 3:34 into the period, but Kyle Wimley finished off a transition goal on man-down to open a two-goal lead with 7:38 to go, followed by Delargy just under three minutes later.
"Everyone just had to keep their heads up," Frankel said. "We kept on telling everyone we're an explosive offense. The game's never over with us. We had to keep pushing, keep shooting well."
Kinnelon was shooting well in the third quarter--and frequently, with 12 shots to Morristown's three--and yet wasn't seeing rewards for the effort. Morristown senior goalie Parker Fairey was brilliant that quarter with five of his 10 saves.
"It was frustrating, but it was hopeful, too," Budd said. "It kept us pumped to keep going because we were getting closer and closer. We were almost there. We just kept driving because we knew we'd eventually finish them."
Defense and goaltending dominated play for both teams in the opening three quarters , which ended with Morristown clinging to a 2-1 lead. Brian Begley and Delargy scored for Morristown and Frankel connected for Kinnelon, but the best play was coming from Elstien, Zybrick, Sean Robbins and Nick Boyle of the Kinnelon defense and Matt Drake, Kurt Sittman and Dan Remler for Morristown.
"We were struggling to score. Their defense is solid and their goalie played really well in the third quarter. He made some point-blank, unreal saves," Kelly said. "We had to switch it up a little, so we said let's throw Kobi out at midfield. Let him see if he can get something going up top. It got us going.
"Overall, this was a good team win. They've got to learn to win these types of games. Sometimes these games are better than a 10-goal win."
Mike Kinney covers boys lacrosse for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS