Mountain Lakes trounces rival Kinnelon

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

MOUNTAIN LAKES– The rivalry between Mountain Lakes and Kinnelon has blown hot and cold over the years but for a variety of reasons the Lakers had serious concerns while facing the Colts on Thursday.

A strong second-half effort on both offense and defense helped Mountain Lakes earn a 6-1 triumph over Kinnelon. The first midfield line of Greg Cuccinello, Tim LaBeau and Dylan Muti combined for four of the Lakers six goals. Billy Burgoyne and Jon Broome also added tallies for Mountain Lakes (6-2). Peter Morreale had a first-quarter goal for the Colts  (2-6).

The Lakers wanted to atone for some of their losses to the Colts the last few years, including a disputed defeat in the Morris County Tournament semifinals. They also wanted to right their current record. After getting off to a 5-0 start, the Lakers suffered consecutive losses to Ridgewood (10-7) and Don Bosco Prep (7-6 in overtime).

“After the Ridgewood game we felt they just beat us,’’ Cuccinello said. “In the Don Bosco game, we felt that defense played well but our offense was slow so we definitely stressed putting it together on both sides of the field.

“You never want to lose two games in a row. Obviously it’s a huge setback in confidence. We were rolling before those two games. It’s good to see us put the game into the win column and see a couple of balls bounce our way.’’

Mountain Lakes midfielder Dylan Muti makes a move to the cage while Kinnelon’s Chris Bauer gives chase.

There also was something to giving a little payback to the Colts. This year’s Kinnelon team is feisty but filled with young, inexperienced players that aren’t as proficient on offense as their predecessors –last year’s Morris County Tournament champs. Still, going into Thursday’s games the Lakers haven’t been as dominant against the Colts as they have been in the past.

“It’s definitely a big deal (beating Kinnelon),’’ LaBeau said. “They won the last three out of five against us and the last two on this field. It’s been a thorn in our side and it was good to get a win against them.’’

The strength of first midfield was essential in making the Lakers click on offense. Cuccinello led the team in ground balls in order to gain valuable possessions. Once they got the ball the trio of Cuccinello, LaBeau and Muti helped get the Lakers moving against the Colts’ zone. They worked the ball around well to create offensive opportunities. Once they took the lead, their passes and dodges ate up plenty of time while the Colts offense watched helplessly.

“We just kept dodging and in the second half we shot a lot better,’’ LaBeau said. “We knew they were going to possess on offense and take a lot of time. We stressed getting the ball when it was on the ground. Ground balls are our focal point. We made sure that when the ball was on the ground, we were going to come up with it.’’

The three midfielders are not expert in any one skill. They can all dodge and feed and scramble for ground balls as well as launch shots on cage.

“That’s a strength for us,’’ Cuccinello said. “We’re able to work together. A lot of times we don’t know who they are going to put the long stick on. Sometimes they put them on me and Timmy. In that case Dylan steps up so we are able to work together. Coach (Tim) Flynn doesn’t let us just go out there and play offense. We have to do it all. We have to get ground balls. We feel like all three of us on a good day can beat our guys. We work well together.’’

Mountain Lakes riding attackman Andrew Rooney tries to knock down Kinnelon goalie Ryan Uhlrich’s clearing pass.

Muti and LaBeau connected in the first half to give Mountain Lakesa 2-1 halftime advantage. Two third-quarter goals gave the Lakers some breathing room. With three minutes left in the period, a shot by attackman Andrew Rooney bounced off the pipe or Kinnelon goalie Ryan Uhlrich or both and flopped up in the air. Burgoyne was able to gather it and pop the ball in the net to make it a 3-1 game with three minutes left.

About a minute and a half later, Muti put in his second goal, a lefty shot to the right side of the cage that he placed shoulder high to give the Lakers a 3-goal margin.

The added goals put more pressure on the Colts to gamble on defense and press to the cage when they had the ball. Lakers’ defensemen Jeff Chang, Dan Badulato and Tyler Batszko among others blanketed the Colts attack. They kept their shooters outside where keeper Andrew Bolland could see the ball. He made 10 saves in all.

Kinnelon attackman Peter Morreale is double teamed by the Mountain Lakes defensive unit.

Fourth-quarter goals by Jon Broome and Cuccinello finished the scoring for the Lakers. The solid victory will put them in a good frame of mind to play Glen Ridge on Saturday.

“There are so many good teams now,’’ Cuccinello said. “The weaker teams are stronger and the stronger teams are even stronger so every game we have to come out and play well on both sides of the ball.’’

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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