Buoye’s poise helps move Mount Olive to 2-0

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

ROXBURY TWP. — Connor Buoye can’t remember feeling much lower while wearing a lacrosse uniform. However, the Mount Olive attackman didn’t let an illegal stick penalty get him down. He proved he could score and cradle using  other people’s lacrosse sticks as well as his own.

Buoye scored four times and Mount Olive overcame penalties and some sloppy play to defeat Roxbury in an 8-3 triumph on Monday. The win coming off the heals of an overtime triumph against Hillsborough on Saturday has gotten the Marauders off to a 2-o start.

Chris Sanchez scored twice and Tyler Hanson and Dan Schweighart also tallied goals. Sanchez and midfielder Tyler McEvoy each had a pair of assists for Mount Olive (2-0).

Jay Norton, John Reynolds and John Vanderhorn scored for Roxbury in its season opener

Mount Olive’s Connor Buoye, left, and Tyler Hanson congratulate each other after teaming up for a second-quarter goal.

It was a sloppy, ugly early season contest. The Marauders defense dealt with nearly eight minutes in penalties. There were also plenty of dropped passes and mistakes to go around for both teams. Roxbury trailed throughout but the Gaels received a golden opportunity to rally midway through the second quarter.

Mount Olive was leading 4-2 with four minutes left in the half when Buoye was whistled for his infraction which was caused by his stick having too deep a pocket. In general lacrosse attackmen like their sticks to have deep pockets in order to keep defenders from checking the ball out and gaining an extra measure of control while shooting, but they do it at their peril especially since the weather can have an affect on the strings that create the pocket. Officials randomly check sticks during stoppages in play. Buoye acted in stunned disbelief when the penalty was assessed to him.

 “I guess it must have been the rain game on Saturday,’’ Buoye said. “I felt really bad about it. I thought I let my team down. I knew I had to make it up to them in the second half.’’

In the meantime, his stick was placed at the scorer’s table not to be used again that day and Buoye had to watch his teammates kill off a 3-minute, non-releasable penalty. Such penalties are often momentum changers or game breakers, but instead of letting Roxbury back into the contest the Mount Olive defense kept the Gaels scoreless and went in with a 4-2 lead at the half.

 “We were man down a lot today and rotations were key,’’Mount Olive goalkeeper Brandyn Merkle said.  “My defense was great. We were two-men down twice and they stayed tight, packing them in and giving me shots that I could save.’’

Roxbury defenseman Sean Smith (1) puts a check on Mount Olive’s Chris Sanchez (22) during first-half action.

If they are not whistled for penalties, the man-down crew generally consists of defenseman Greg Novick, Austin Nibblet and Logan St. John as well as long stick midfielder Nick Verrone and teammate Frank Pastena.

 “We practice man down a lot,’’Mount Olive coach Dave Gallucci said. “We play aggressive defense so we anticipate that.’’  

 Senior midfielder Nick Verrone in particular made a huge play by scooping up a loose ball and giving the Marauders possession for more than a minute of the penalty.

“We rotated early and Nick had a nice takeaway check,’’ Merkle said. “He just carried us through. We put a lot of trust in Nick. When he has the ball in his stick we don’t think he’s ever going to drop it.’’

Mount Olive goalkeeper Brandyn Merkle, left, looks to scoop up a loose ball in front of his Roxbury opponent.

 Buoye didn’t dwell on the incident. Instead he cleared the penalty from his mind, borrowed a stick from sophomore midfielder Brandon Porter and got back out on the field.

“Connor can be a good poker player,’’ Gallucci said. “He’s not a very emotional kid. He has a straight face. He’s all business and he works hard.’

“The big thing I try to stress to the players is if you make a mistake, make up for it. He made a mistake. I don’t know why the stick is illegal. He’s had it checked before. He came back into the game and scored two goals. The one goal he scored to make it 5-2 was really big.’’ 

 Buoye made a spin move on his defender and placed a hard, low shot in the right corner of the net with 2:12 left in the third quarter to make it a three-goal game and set the tone for the rest of the contest.

“I knew I had a shorty (short stick defender) on me and coach was saying that I had the matchup,’’ Buoye said. “I just wanted to get another goal and luckily I put it in.’’

Buoye also took note of what the Mount Olive coaches told them about Roxbury goalie Chris Ryan. The Gaels keeper was making great saves in the first half including several tight ones. The Marauders had to vary their shots a little more.

“He was stuffing us,’’ Buoye said. “We knew we had to make adjustments. Coach told us that we had to put a couple of fakes on him when we get inside. We did that and we got a couple more goals on him.’

Roxbury’s Jay Norton looks for an opening but the Mount Olive defense has him covered.

Buoye took advantage of the advice to make it 6-2 when he dumped in a breakaway shot created by a Sanchez ground ball with 9:53 left in regulation. Roxbury’s Reynolds connected with 8:29 to make it a 3-goal game again but back-to-back scores by Schweighardt and Sanchez sealed the win.

It wasn’t pretty and there are still plenty of games to work on fixing mistakes but Gallucci hopes it’s a win that provided his players with a few lessons they can learn from and take to heart.

 “I have a lot of seniors and a lot of them have been with us for three or four years,’’ Gallucci said. “They have been in situation where things weren’t going their way but you can see their character. They step up and stay together and find a way to win.’’

 Other boys lacrosse scores

Morris Knolls 8, North Warren 1 – Mike Campman had three goals and one assist and Ryan Hanright notched four assists to spark the Golden Eagles. Jon Engels had his second hat trick in two games to help Morris Knolls improve to 2-0 on the season. 

Morristown 11, St. Peter’s Prep 10 – The Colonials edged their opponents with a 5-goal fourth quarter effort. Brian Begley scored six times. Stephen DeLargey added three goals and Brad Hersh scored twice for the Colonials.

Pequannock 14, Park Regional 3 – The Golden Panthers took control with eight goals in the first quarter.Matt Esposito and Shane Lilienthal scored four goals apiece.

Chatham 12, West Essex 5 – The Cougars improve to 2-0 on the season. Chatham led 5-1 at the half and slowly pulled away. Sam Carson tallied four times and Kyle Howard Johnson had three goals and one assist.

Morris Catholic 8. Warren Hills 4; Ridge 14, Mendham 1; Livingston 9, Morris Hills 4.

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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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