Morris Knolls drives past Park

By Mark Kitchin


It’s always a difficult adjustment when a team gets a new coach, but there’s something unusual added to that transition when that coach comes from a rival school.

Morris Knolls players appear to have made a seamless adjustment to Terry Reilly, the former head coach at sister-school rival Morris Hills. On Thursday, the Golden Eagles showed again that they are thriving from his teachings.

Jesse Kopecky had three goals and two assists and Jared Huston fired a hat trick to lift Morris Knolls to a 13-6 victory over Hanover Regional in boys lacrosse action.

Jon Engels had two goals and two assists and Andy Consoles added two goals and one assist. Ryan Hanright, Andrew Yenesel and Reed Pelliconi also connected for the Golden Eagles (8-5).

Terry O’Connor and Seth Wadleigh scored two goals apiece for Park (3-9). Connor Vorhies and Jon Jorge also connected for Hanover Regional.

Hanover Regional, which is also called Park Regional, is one of the few co-op lacrosse programs in the state. It contains players from both Hanover Park and Whippany Park on its team.

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Park goalkeeper Tim Kelly keeps his eye on the ball during first-half action on Thursday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Even though Reilly is a gym teacher at Morris Knolls, the players admit it was a little difficult to adjust to him being their new coach after years of trying to beat his teams at rival Morris Hills. Reilly moved to take over the Morris Knolls coaching job when Mark Grilo, who helped start the Golden Eagles lacrosse program, was hired to be the head coach at Mendham.

“I won’t lie, it was weird but he teaches at our school,’’ Huston, a senior midfielder said. “He’s a gym teacher at our school so it wasn’t that hard of a transition but it was definitely weird at first because they are our big, cross-town rival.’’

Over the years, there was always a little friendly banter back-and-forth between Reilly and the Golden Eagles players in his gym classes leading up to the big game. Last year, the Scarlet Knights won it in overtime to the chagrin of some of the more talkative varsity players.

“He brings it up all the time,’’ senior defenseman Dom Gaudioso said. “He will still make us watch it (on tape) to make us humble.’’

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Morris Knolls defenseman Dom Gaudioso works to clear the ball for the Golden Eagles. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Grilo and Reilly are good friends and exchanged information in the off-season to make for a smooth transition. Reilly made technical changes at Morris Knolls on both offense and defense leading into the season, but he kept a lot of the Golden Eagles’ old practice drills. Both coaches are known for their intensity but there have also been subtle shifts in overall philosophy. Reilly delegates a bit more to his assistant coaches while Grilo had a more control-oriented approach.

“The ways we do things are different,’’ Gaudioso said. “We get ready on the bus, so we are all focused (coming in) compared to last year where we would walk out and then get ready on the sidelines.’’

On Thursday, Morris Knolls did have a lapse in the opening minutes but after surrendering a first-quarter goal, the Golden Eagles scored nine consecutive times to take a 9-1 halftime advantage.

After Vorhies’ goal off a Jorge pass just 31 seconds into the game gave Park a 1-0 advantage, the Morris Knolls defense tightened up quickly. Seniors Gaudioso and Ryan Sweeney anchor the back. Sophomore Danny Bias is coming along as is senior goalkeeper James Whitehill.

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Somewhere under a cloud of dust is the lacrosse ball. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“He’s stepping up big. He’s a senior but he’s always played behind Tim Zangara, who is a great goalie,’’ Gaudioso said. “We got together in the summer and we worked with (Whitehill). The first couple games, first couple of practices we really worked hard. Now, we mesh well together and work well as a team.’’

Improvement on the draws has given the defense some rest, too. Huston and his wingmen, Rob McCormick and Joe Leonardis, have shown vast improvement around the circle because of Reilly’s watchful eyes.

“Coach Grilo was a goalie so it wasn’t as much hands on with him in faceoffs.’’ Huston said. “It’s a lot different (than last year). I learned some new moves. I learned better better footwork. We’ve been doing pretty well.’’

With tenacious defense and plenty of offensive possessions, Morris Knolls gradually added to its lead most of the day.

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Jon Jorge and Connor Vorhies celebrate Park’s lone first-half goal. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The Golden Eagles built the advantage to 11-2 with 5:35 left in the third quarter before

Park bounced back and scored four of the last six goals. Overall, the win was a good confidence booster for Morris Knolls which has some tough games coming up including an opening round MCT contest against Kinnelon.

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Morris Knolls’ Ryan Hanright matches Park’s Pat Brennan step for step. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)


Boys Lacrosse

Kinnelon 12, Byram Hills (NY) 5

Ryan O’Keefe scored five goals, Dom Usinowicz had three goals and one assist and Brian Gnad had two goals and three assists for the Colts (6-5).

Somerville 10, Mendham 3

Tim Lewis scored twice for the Minutemen (5-8).

Madison 12, Morristown 9

Christian Scarpello had five goals and two assists, Colin Scarpello had two goals and three assists and Andrew Kaye had two goals and one assist for the Dodgers (9-4). The Colonials drop to 3-8.

Seton Hall Prep 11, West Morris 7

Jeremy Angle had two goals and one assist and Matt Pruss and Matt Carfaro each notched a pair of goals for the Wolfpack (5-8).

Vernon 11, Jefferson 3

The winless Falcons trailed only 4-3 at the half.

Bernards 8, Morristown-Beard 7

Declan Swartwood’s fourth-quarter goal helped the Mountaineers to the Waterman Division title. Andrew Callahan had two goals and two assists for the Crimson (8-5).

Don Bosco Prep 10, Mountain Lakes 9

Nick Buchanan’s goal with 1:34 left decided the matter. Chris Sammaro had three goals and three assists, Spencer Herman had two goals and two assists, Sam Walsh added two goals for the Lakers (7-3).

Lenape Valley 14, Boonton 5

Drew Recchia scored twice for the Bombers.

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Morris Knolls’ coach Terry Reilly used to coach at rival Morris Hills. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Girls Lacrosse

Morris County Tournament

Pequannock 16, Hanover Regional 5

Jess Rigoglioso scored five times to pace the 12th-seeded Golden Panthers. Alyssa Tachon, Ashley Tachon, Christie Richard, Danielle Musto and Andre Kassaleh each had two-goal games for Pequannock (6-7). Melissa Wamp earned the hat trick for Park (4-8).

Regular Season

Kinnelon 15, Mahwah 14, 2 OT

Virginia Annaheim connected on a crease roll with 4.2 seconds remaining for the winning goal. The Colts rallied from a 14-12 deficit after the first overtime with three consecutive goals. Vickie Babinski tied the score 12-12 with 36 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Heidi Annaheim scored nine goals for Kinnelon (3-9).

Morris Knolls 12, Montville 7

The Golden Eagles led 7-4 at the break. Jaime Chapman had four goals and two assists and Jacie Cooper and Kayla Skibicki each notched a pair of goals for Morris Knolls (2-11). Abbie Haimson scored five times for the Mustangs (7-5).

Indian Hills 19, Madison 13

Ali Jago had four goals and two assists and Molly Fishter added three goals for the Dodgers (11-3).

Columbia 13, Randolph 11

The Rams fall to 3-10.


About mcvbb

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

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