Kinnelon survives slow start in preliminary round state play

By Mark Kitchin


KINNELON – After a first half of putting the ball everywhere but where it belongs, Kobi Frankel and his Kinnelon teammates settled down and gave the Colts the bounce back victory it needed in the preliminary round of state tournament play.

A 7-1 second-half run lifted the Kinnelon to a 13-4 triumph over Middle Township in Group I state tournament boys lacrosse action on Saturday.

Senior attackman Kobi Frankel had four goals and two assists, Brian Gnad had two goals and two assists and Bobby Lewis and Michael Maniero also had two-goal games to pace the Colts.

Kobi Frankel scored twice in the third quarter to help Kinnelon pull away in state tournament play.

Kinnelon had a precarious 6-3 lead at halftime but pulled out of its funk by scoring five of the next six goals. Perhaps it took awhile to regain a little confidence that faded after the team’s loss to Mountain Lakes in the Morris County Tournament final on Wednesday. It was only Kinnelon’s third trip to the title game and the frustrating defeat may have deflated them a bit. Once the Colts finally mounted a run and found a groove, their initial state tournament triumph was in their grasp.

“We needed a rest after Lakes and this was definitely a big bounce back game,’’ Frankel said. “During the week we shot around a lot and kind of stayed off our feet to rest our legs and pretty much got our heads focused on the state tournament. We have one goal now.’’

Kinnelon didn’t know much about the fledgling Middle Township, the 26th seed, other than the school had produced some pretty good athletes in the past. The Colts focused mainly on their own ability to execute.

“You have to play your own game,’’ Frankel said. “You never let another team dictate the way you want to play. We had a slow beginning but in the second half we picked it up. We realized who we were and played our game.’’

Kinnelon’s Joe Neggia (15) looks for some space to take a shot on Saturday against a Middle Township. defender.

Frankel and the rest of the Colts knew that there was a simple answer for their slow second half. They just weren’t scoring.

“We weren’t finishing our shots in the first half,’’ Frankel said. “We had a lot of opportunities and we didn’t finish. We came out in the second half and we put more poise on our shots and put them in the back of the net. It was a question of just finding our matchups and executing.’’

Middle Township made it a 6-4 game before Kinnelon scored five consecutive goals to end the third quarter. Frankel scored twice and Gnad, Maniero and Ryan O’Keefe all tallied during the run. O’Keefe connected off a Greg Budd feed with 55 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Colts a commanding 11-4 advantage going into the final period.

Kinnelon’s Nick LaBanca (5) is swarmed by three Middle Township Panthers in second half action.

Other state tournament action

Group I

Mountain Lakes 18, Woodstown 1 – The Lakers scored 10 first-quarter goals to steamroller their opponents. Eric Dircks had three goals and Christian Cuccinello had four assists forMountain Lakes.

Madison 14, Verona 6 – A 7-0 third-quarter run gave the Dodgers a 14-5 edge going into the final period. Colin Scarpello had three goals and four assists while Christian Scarpello and Billy Battaglia each had three goals and three assists forMadison.

Group II

West Morris 14, Toms River East 4 – Matt Carfaro had three goals and four assists and Ryan Muscatella had three goals for the Wolfpack. A 6-1 run in the second quarter gave West Morris a 7-1 halftime advantage.

Brian Gnad (6) congratulates Kobi Frankel on a third quarter goal during Saturday’s state game.

Group III

Morristown 15, Roxbury 2 – Brian Begley had four goals and two assists, Stephen Delargey added four goals and Brad Hersh had two goals and three assists for the Colonials.Morristown took an 8-2 at the half and shut out the Gaels in the second half.

 Mount Olive 12, Toms River South 2 – The Marauders took a 5-2 halftime advantage and scored seven unanswered goals the rest of the way. Connor Buoye scored six times and Rich Notillo had a goal and two assists forMount Olive.

Montville 14, Park Regional 1 – Ryan O’Lear had four goals and four assists including his 100th career goal. Jake Haimson had four goals and one assist. Raf Correa had two goals and one assist, Niko DelMoro had two goals and Brian McCormack had one goal and three assists for the Mustangs. Sophomore midfielder Jake Drexl won 16 of 17 draws. Pat Brennan scored the lone goal for theSparks.

Cherokee 11, Morris Knolls 6; Rancocas 13, Randolph 7



About mcvbb

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

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