Delbarton edges Mountain Lakes in MCT defensive battle

By Mark Kitchin


MADISON– The lacrosse balls were whistling past John Schisler but as long as the Delbarton’s sophomore goalkeeper didn’t have to dig them out from in back of the net it didn’t matter to him or the Green Wave defense. There would be plenty of time to score goals.

Delbarton midfielder John Shaffer scored twice and defenseman Jack Breit notched the eventual game-winner in Delbarton’s 5-4 triumph overMountainLakesin the Morris County Tournament title game on Tuesday at FDU-Florham.

Schaffer earned MVP honors and Ben Reynolds and Anthony Heaton scored goals for the top-seeded Green Wave which tied MountainLakesfor its 11th title in MCT history and their second one in the last three seasons.

Jon Broome and Tim LaBeau scored two goals each for the third-seeded Lakers (10-3). Mountain Lakes controlled possession for a majority of the first half and outshot Delbarton 20-6 but only led 2-1 at the half.

“It’s a big rivalry, a big stage,’’ Shaffer said. “(Mountain Lakes is) a great team. I think once everyone got settled down in the second half and even towards the end of the first half it was a little bit easier to play.’’

Delbarton’s Anthony Heaton jumps on the back of two teammates celebrating a goal during Tuesday’s MCT Final

For some Green Wave players it was also a chance to erase some bitter memories of last season when Delbarton didn’t even get to the tournament final.

“It was a chance to wipe last year away,’’ Breit said. “We’re back. We’re competing.’’

Schaffer admitted that there were numerous heroes in the contest which was the first between the traditional Morris County lacrosse powers this year.

“Forty guys could have been MVP today,’’ Schaffer said. “I was the lucky one who was able to put two between the pipes. It’s an honor for me but there were a bunch of other guys that could have gotten it.’’

Back-to-back fourth-quarter goals by Anthony Heaton and Breit sealed the victory. The eventual game-winning goal was set up by a terrific defensive play by Delbarton midfielder Dean Brierley. Brierley’s hard check knocked the ball out of a Mountain Lakes midfielder’s stick behind the Delbarton net. He corralled the ball ran it nearly the length of the field before feeding Jack Malloy, who found Breit to make it a two-goal game.

“I just followed Dean up,’’ Breit said. “I know he’s got wheels so I just followed him up field. I saw the defense go towards Malloy. I put my stick up in the hopes that Jack would see it and he did. He made a terrific pass across the field.’’

The goal with 2:51 left in regulation made the score 5-3. Mountain Lakes would get a late goal by LaBeau off a Broome feed with 17.6 seconds left in the game. The Lakers controlled the subsequent faceoff but then lost it on a turnover as time expired.

Wild scrambles for the ball were typical of the action in Tuesday’s defense-oriented contest.

The raucous crowd of about 1,500 saw a contest that was close throughout with three ties and one lead change. The Lakers controlled possession much of the first half. Although Mountain Lakes missed shots, it continually kept Delbarton on the defensive.

“It was tough getting through the first quarter,’’ said Schisler, who made eight saves in all. “Our defense did a good job just bearing down and keeping their shots wide.’’

The Green Wave made it difficult for the Lakers to operate at all in front of the crease and many of their better offensive efforts proved to be just off the mark.

“It was just matching up and poking at their hands when they were shooting, making sure the shots went wide,’’ Schisler added. “We knew their big players. We needed to be physical, which we did. ’’

Shaffer’s man-up goal early in the second quarter was the only first-half score Delbarton could muster. The Lakers played well defensively in the second half but the Green Wave was able to create scoring chances off of scrambled plays or awkward transitions.

“It was little stuff, guys getting opportunities and executing,’’ Shaffer said. “We didn’t have too many opportunities but when we did we made the most of them.’’

Mountain Lakes’ Greg Cuccinello lets go of a shot but Delbarton’s Jaime White is right with him.

An unassisted goal by Delbarton midfielder Ben Reynolds on a low lefty shot that found the left corner tied the game at 2-2 with 3:43 left in the third quarter. Breit would make it a 3-2 game with six tenths of a second left in the third quarter when he scooped up a ground ball that was checked out of teammate Jack Malloy’s stick and put a shot in the net.

Broome, who scored the game-winning goal in Mountain Lakes’ buzzer-beating win over Chatham in Saturday’s semifinal, hit his second goal of the game off a Tanner Tripucka feed with 7:51 left in regulation to the game at 3-3.

Three minutes later Delbarton took the lead back on Heaton’s unassisted goal. It was set up on a shot by the Green Wave’s Peter McMullen that Lakers’ goalie Andrew Bolland deflected but couldn’t control. Heaton picked the ball up and fired it in to make it 4-3.

The Lakers won the subsequent faceoff on an out-of-bounds call. Mountain Lakes worked to get the ball behind the Delbarton cage but then Brierley made his play. What makes Brierley’s effort amazing is that the Green Wave’s standout basketball player never played lacrosse seriously until he went out for the team in March. Although his stickwork is nowhere near that of his teammates who have been playing for years, he is a perfect fit at defensive midfield where his athleticism, footwork and defensive instincts are more than a match for some of his opponents.

“He is a competitor,’’ Shaffer said. “He is such a hard worker. In practice he is one of our hardest workers. He does the little things. He doesn’t always get recognition but he made a huge play. He won’t tell you he made a great play but for him to do that was tremendous for us.’’


About mcvbb

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

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