Pequannock boys advance with authority in state play

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

PEQUANNOCK — It seemed like the game was long over but it was only the end of the third quarter when the buzzer sounded and Pequannock coach Josh Danziger told his players to “Go get your goalie guys.’’

He was reminded that there was still a quarter to go and it wasn’t time for the traditional game-ending lacrosse ritual but Danziger knew what he was doing.

“I’m taking him (starter Curt Thomson) out,’’ the coach said. “Go get him.’’

There was a time when the Pequannock boys lacrosse program couldn’t even fathom getting in the state tournament much less earning a victory. Now the Golden Panthers are starting to win them with authority.

Ryan Van Bochoven scored seven goals to lift Pequannock to a 17-3 victory over Pascack Hills in a North Group I state tournament contest on the Pequannock turf on Friday.

Liam Lilienthal had three goals and two assists, Dan Sweezey registered a hat trick and Bryan Peters had two goals and one assist for the sixth-seeded Golden Panthers (15-3). It is the second state tournament win in Golden Panthers history and their first state triumph on their home turf. Pequannock will travel to face Madison in the quarterfinal round.

Travis Lansky, Derek Sammartino and Jacob Scott connected for the 11th seeded Cowboys (9-9).

21 blst peqphPequannock’s Ryan VanBochoven scored seven goals to spark a state tournament victory. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Danziger remembers the early days of the program when players were just learning the game and were instructed on how to pass and catch. Now the town’s feeder system is providing him with players that make important contributions to the varsity level almost immediately. Five freshmen on the Golden Panthers log major varsity minutes.

“The feeder program is churning out quality players now,’’ Danziger said. “This year is proof of that. Our guys have stepped up big. Liam (Lilienthal) has 60 goals as a freshman. That’s a product of what they did down there. When you infuse that kind of talent into a program that I’d like to think has been built up over the years, good things happen.

“It’s great to have guys who can step in right away. It’s also great to have older players who can accept working with the younger players so well. They just welcome them in and start working together from day one.’’

The ability for freshmen like Lilienthal to work well with a senior like Van Bachoven is one of the reasons the Golden Panthers have come so far, so fast. On Friday, Pequannock improved on its school record with its 15th victory of the season.

“A lot of freshman came in this year and we blended well,’’ Lilienthal said. “Playing in the winter, playing in the summer, we all just got to know each other and started gaining chemistry throughout the whole team.’’

82 blst peqphSenior Ryan Van Bachoven congratulates freshman Liam Lilienthal after his first-quarter goal. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Lilienthal doesn’t have great size but he does have good speed, a good stick and the knack of finding space on the field to create scoring opportunities for himself and others.

“Liam is darting around out there,’’ Danziger said. “He is very, very tough to catch. Elusive would be a good word. He’s certainly going to be somebody who will be heard from for awhile.’’

You can’t miss Van Bachoven. The 6-foot-5 senior is a tremendous target and a tough player to pry the ball from once he gets it in his stick. Van Bachoven credits Lilienthal and Tyler Macejka, who set the school record for points this year (44 goals, 54 assists), among others for finding him on his cuts to the cage.

“He lives right down the road (from the school),’’ Danziger said. “I’m pretty sure he’s here every single day working on things. He is always working in the weight room, speed, agility, shooting buckets of balls. He is one of those guys who come out in the afternoon and doesn’t come out until the sun goes down.’’

On Friday, the Golden Panthers also received a solid performance by sophomore midfielder Bryan Peters. He consistently won the draws, including a couple by himself and excels at dodging up top for scoring opportunities.

“He is our go-to middie,’’ Lilienthal said. “He’s always the one working out there. He’s always the one grabbing the ground balls. When we needed a big ground ball, we’re always looking for him to do it.’’

9 blst peqphPequannock midfielder Bryan Peters is strong on the draw and around the cage. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Peters was dominant on ground balls against Pascack Hills. Ten of them jumped into the pocket of his stick on Friday.

“I’ve been playing with Bryan for a couple of years now,’’ Van Bochevan said. “He’s a fantastic player. We just know whenever we throw the ball to him, he will do something right. On the ground balls, he is one of the leaders in the state with it. He is just fantastic picking it up.’’

The defense has also developed nicely. The players seem to be comfortable whether Thomson or freshman Austin Geissel stands between the pipes. Thomson, who had 12 saves over three quarters, has set a single-season record for wins for a goalkeeper.

Although Pequannock is still learning to improve on the tournament level, it did what good teams do when awarded an early round home game. Pequannock scored nine consecutive goals before Pascack Hills connected on its first. Six different players scored in the first quarter including Lilienthal, who converted a Van Bochoven feed with three seconds left in the quarter to make it 6-0.

Van Bochoven had three consecutive goals midway through the second quarter to help Pequannock build at 10-1 halftime edge. The Golden Panthers pulled away by scoring six of the last nine goals to cement the win. Next they have to travel on the road to face Madison, a 15-0 winner over Verona on Friday. They know it will be a challenge and relish the opportunity to play their old Northern Hills Conference rivals.

“We played a couple of really close games this year and we were put in tight situations,’’ Danziger said. “We played some good teams as well. These guys are ready.’’

125 blst peqphPequannock midfielder Jake Tensi puts some leverage on Pascack Hills’ Matt Colombo. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

State Tournament

Morris County Results

Madison 15, Verona 0

Vince Sapio had five goals and one assist to pace the Dodgers in North Group I competition. Collin Scarpello had four goals and two assists and Andrew Kaye had a goal and three assists for Madison (12-6). The Dodgers scored 10 goals in the second quarter to take a 13-0 advantage at the half. Verona finished at 6-12.

Chatham 18, Jefferson 0

Sam Carson fired a hat trick for Chatham (15-4). Will Bartnett, David Gill and Thomas Guida had two goals apiece for the Cougars in Group II action. The Falcons finished their season at 1-18.

Mount Olive 14, Bergen Tech 5

The Marauders prevailed in a Thursday night Group III state tournament contest. Chris Sanchez fired a hat trick. Bobby Hoffman and Eric Weiss each scored two goals apiece for Mount Olive (13-4). Mount Olive took control early and led 12-0 at the half. Bergen Tech finishes at 3-9.

GIRLS LACROSSE

State Tournament

Chatham 17, River Dell 1

Maddy Bowles fired a hat trick and Bridget Ballard had two goals and four assists to spark the Cougars in Group II action. Lauren Maiorano had two goals and two assists for Chatham (8-8). The Cougars outshot River Dell 22-5. River Dell finishes at 8-9.

Delaware Valley 23, Jefferson 13

The Falcons finish a strong campaign at 15-3. Darby Nolan and Kara Hodapp scored four goals each and Danielle Pini had two goals and one assist for Jefferson in the Group II contest. Delaware Valley improved to 14-4.

98 blst peqphCurtis Thomson has the goal covered for Pequannock. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

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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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