Valiant Morristown falls in Group III Final

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

BASKING RIDGE — Every year Morristown takes one step closer to achieving its goal of a state title. Unfortunately for the Colonials that goal is still beyond the reach of their grasp.

Connor O’Shea and Max Luing each had two goals and an assist to fuel Ridgewood to a 10-6 victory over Morristown in the Group III state tournament final held on the turf at Ridge High School on Wednesday.

Blake Feagles also added a pair of goals for the Maroons which advance to the Tournament of Champions which will start with the quarterfinal round this weekend.

Brad Hersh and Conor Dolan each had two goals apiece for Morristown. Ridgewood built a 9-2 lead with seven minutes left in regulation. The Colonials didn’t quit and nearly put a scare in the Maroons by scoring four of the last five goals. The clock ran out on Morristown’s chances but the players showed plenty of heart by rallying in the final minutes.

(Story developing)

Morristown’s Conor Dolan uses a fist pump to celebrate a first half goal for the Colonials.

“Those guys have been to a couple of these,’’ said Morristown coach Jeff Bigas motioning to Ridgewood. “This is our first one so you live and you learn.’’

Since Bigas came to Morristown six years ago, the Colonials’ progress has been a steady procession. Morristown has evolved from a struggling program to a serious contender for state titles. Bigas has to find out how to lead his charges one step farther.

 “I’m not sure (how) yet,’’ Bigas said. “That’s what our job is in the offseason. That’s what we have to figure out I guess. You have to be like them –Ridgewood put a great game together. They have a lot of great players. They played very hard like we did but the ball bounced their way.’’

Morristown’s Brian Begley (27) stops short to try and elude a Ridgewood defenseman on Wednesday.

Morristown had the ball for stretches of time throughout the game but had difficulty getting good shots on the Ridgewood cage. The Maroons also have junior goalie Noah Pounds who is considered one of the Garden State’s best young goalkeepers.

“I think we were able to get to Noah a little better the last game we played them,’’ Bigas said. “I don’t think we got to him as much. He had a really great defense in front of him. They were awesome today.’’

Morristown’s Brad Hersh (11)  and Kyle Wimley (11) try to keep a Ridgewood defenseman from initiating a clear.

Ridgewood’s balanced attack helped it build a 9-2 advantage midway through the fourth quarter.Morristownfought until the end. Brad Hersh scored twice and Conor Dolan and Stephen DeLargy added scores in the final period to keep the Maroons on their toes. The Colonials seniors can not only be proud of a successful season but also taking part in putting the Colonials back on the lacrosse map.

“They changed the culture,’’ Bigas said. “We’ve had some really good players and some pretty great teams but this group — when they came in lacrosse was pretty important to some guys. Now that they are leaving lacrosse is very important to every guy. The guys this year picked things up for us.

 “A lot of guys paid a lot of dues to get us to where we are now. We went from 2-16 six years ago to over .500 teams to real good records teams. This is as far as we’ve come. I told the guys that this is the first group that has been here (to the final) but there will be more. We’ll be back.’’

 Morristown’s Brian Begley looks for an opening but Ridgewood’s Dylan Logan matches him step for step.

 

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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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