Fourth-quarter run lifts Kinnelon in MCT

By Mark Kitchin

 Morriscountylacrosse

KINNELON – Orrin Main playfully hid a box of ice pops from his Kinnelon teammates when they huddled up after their Morris County Tournament win on Tuesday, but they didn’t stay under his shirt for long. When it comes to tournament time, everyone is looking for the good stuff.

Midfielder Mike Alaimo fired a hat trick and attackman Brian Gnad scored two fourth-quarter goals to lift Kinnelon to a 9-5 victory over Randolph in an opening round Morris County Tournament game. The fifth-seeded and defending champion Colts (4-7) advance to play fourth-seeded Morristown on Thursday.

Five different players connected for the 12th-seeded Rams (3-7) which also got a gritty performance by goalkeeper Wes Odell. Odell had 13 saves including a few outstanding ones that kept the Rams in the game.

Kinnelon finally pulled away with four consecutive fourth-quarter goals. The Colts had not played in a week (they lost to Ridgewood 14-6 on April 26) because of weather and field conditions and looked rusty during the first half. They regained their touch just in time to advance to the quarterfinals.

Kinnelon defenseman Orrin Main battles Randolph’s Kurtis Naslonski (5) and John Yachmetz (3) for the ball.

“We just had to play smarter and finish,’’ said Main, a defenseman. “We had it all there. We just had to go harder on ground balls, pick them all up, get the passes down and finish.’’

 The Randolph team made its presence felt with some timely scores and Odell’s goalkeeping. Odell was great in close and good at cutting down the angles of the Kinnelon shooters.

“If you weren’t picking corners or picking pipes, it wasn’t going to go in,’’ Alaimo said. “We made sure we got a good shot and if we were going to miss, miss wide so we could get the ball back.’’

The game was tied 3-3 at halftime and 5-5 going into the final period. Although the Rams have struggled this year they have some quick sticks and a tenacious faceoff man in John Yachmetz. One player the Colts paid attention to was Kurtis Naslonski who has a very hard shot.

Kinnelon attackman Peter Morreale tries to make a move on Randolph midfielder Eric Smith.

“I had to come up and pressure him a lot,’’ Main said. “In the second half I pressured him more because he had a good shot and I had to play him outside the box. I tried to take him out of the offense as much as I could.’’

Kinnelon worked on dealing with Randolph’s defense. After that it was just a question of the moving the ball, connecting passes and finding someone to finish.

“We came out on offense and they were pressuring out on us,’’ Alaimo said. “We just dodged to the goal when they pressured out. We found the looks and we found the shots and we started playing a little better as a team when we gained momentum.’’

A man-advantage goal broke the 5-5 tie. Randolph was called for an illegal checking penalty. After probing the Rams defense, some quick passing between Kobi Frankel, Greg Budd and Gnad provided a score just outside of the Randolph net with 9:18 left in regulation.

“We know he is a good inside finisher,’’ Alaimo said of Gnad. “He plays hockey, He has good sticks skills. Once we found him on the back pipe we knew he could dip and dunk. He can finish in practice. In the games he’s been kind of rusty but today he was on.’’

The Randolph Rams celebrate a first-half goal in Tuesday’s Morris County Tournament game.

Alaimo capitalized nearly three minutes later by knifing through a pair of Randolph defenders for a transition goal with 6:30 left to make it 7-5.

“I had a short stick on me and I saw that the lane was open so I ran as fast as I could,’’ Alaimo said. “Once I got my hands free I just ripped it.’’

A few minutes later Gnad converted a Frankel feed with about five minutes left for a three-goal margin and then Budd circled the cage and scored at the 3-minute mark to provide a comfortable advantage.

MCT Games of note:

Mendham 9, Morristown-Beard 5 – The sixth-seeded Minutemen led 6-0 at the half. The Minutemen will face third-seeded Mountain Lakes on Thursday.

Madison 7, West Morris 5 – The Dodgers led 5-4 after three quarters and hung on for the win. Billy Battaglia scored twice for Madison. The Dodgers faces top-seeded Delbarton on Thursday.

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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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