Southern Regional Boys Lacrosse Team Splits First Four Games to Start Season
Apparently, a three-goal lead heading into the fourth quarter wasn’t enough for the Southern Regional High School boys lacrosse team in its season opener against Howell on March 29. The Rams ended up losing the game by two goals. But the next day, the Rams unleashed their offensive fury and didn’t give Holmdel a chance to erase a deficit.
“That loss was a big punch in the face,” said senior attacker Kyle Mulrane, who scored six goals during the Rams’ first victory over the season, a 16-3 drubbing of the Hornets. “We thought we’d roll over Howell and they ended up beating us in the fourth quarter. Today, we had to come out as a team and everybody had to do his part. We had to take care of business, and we did.”
It didn’t take long. Just 1:17 into the contest, junior midfielder Ryan Comfort fired a shot past Holmdel goaltender Tom Anderson, and the Rams never looked back, ripping off eight unanswered goals for an 8-0 lead by halftime. After Mulrane gave Southern a 2-0 lead with 7:28 left in the first quarter, senior midfielder Will Johnson made it 3-0 less than a minute later, before Mulrane made it 4-0 with 1:12 left in the first.
Johnson and Mulrane each scored once in the second quarter, while sophomore attacker Nick Fontana added two more during the final 3:15 of the first half.
“Yesterday, there was not a lot of discipline within our offense,” Johnson said of the loss to the Rebels. “We were a bit anxious and didn’t take good shots. But today, we had more composure. We worked our offense a lot better.”
Holmdel got on the scoreboard with the first goal of the second half, about 3½ minutes into the third quarter, but the Rams scored four straight during the last 7:03, including two just 37 seconds apart, to break open the contest and take a 12-1 lead into the final quarter.
Meanwhile, the defense – which has some inexperienced young starters who struggled at times against Howell – remained strong and cohesive. The Hornets managed 21 shots on goal, but Southern’s senior netminder, Tristan Farina, made 18 saves.
“We have some really young players in certain spots, and yesterday, against a good team, they were getting their feet wet,” said Johnson, who finished with three goals and an assist. “We made mistakes at crucial points in the game, and Howell made us pay for them. We didn’t make many mistakes today.”
Sophomore middie Anellio Russo ended up with a pair of goals and three assists, while Fontana finished with two goals and two assists, and Comfort ended with two goals and an assist. Freshman attacker Cade Johnson added a goal and an assist.
“We graduated almost our entire defense last year,” said head coach John Pampalone, “and our inexperience on defense showed a bit during the fourth quarter against Howell. We lost a tough one, but our guys responded well today against Holmdel.”
Against the Rebels, the Rams led 8-5 going into the fourth quarter, but Howell outscored Southern 6-1 during the final 12 minutes. Will Johnson fired in five goals, while Fontana registered two goals and two assists, and Mulrane tallied a pair of goals. Freshman defensive midfielder Will Devane and senior attacker Dylan Smith each had an assist.
On Saturday, April 1, Southern trailed Rumson-Fair Haven, 2-1, at the half, but the high-powered Bulldogs scored seven unanswered goals during the third and fourth quarters to record a 9-1 victory. Farina made 22 saves, while Will Johnson scored the Rams’ only goal in the second quarter.
On Monday, April 3, the Rams responded to their second loss of the season with their second victory – a 15-2 win over Jackson Liberty. Fontana had six goals and an assist, while Mulrane fired in four goals and gave out a pair of assists, and Will Johnson scored twice and provided an assist. Comfort, Anthony Firmani and Smith each scored a goal to help push the Rams to 2-2.
— David Biggy