Return to home turf sparks Mendham’s sticks

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

MENDHAM — After days of tossing the ball around a parking lot, the Mendham boys lacrosse team was happy to get back on its home turf for the first time this season.

It showed in Mendham’s 16-9 win over Montville on Saturday afternoon.

Senior midfielder Will Robinson scored four goals and Drew Robshaw and Tim Gillespie fired hat tricks for the Minutemen.

Chandler Avallone had two goals and five assists for Mendham (2-2). In its first home game of the season. The Minutemen’s artificial turf field was resurfaced this spring and unavailable for use until Saturday.

Graham Jasperson scored four times and Tyler Chin had two goals and an assist for the Mustangs (4-3).

Mendham’s joy in having the home turf back showed.  Mendham led 7-2 at the half and spent most of the second half pulling away.

24 bl mentvMendham’s Ross Coapman fires a shot on Montville keeper Aaron Silversteen on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“All preseason was tough for us,” Robinson said. “We practiced up in the parking lot a lot. We’re really happy to get on the turf. Now we have a place to practice every day for the rest of the season.”

The combination of inclement weather and the deteriorating artificial surface made the turf practically unplayable. Mendham postponed a few early home games. The boys team became the first Minutemen team to play on the newly finished surface that was finished on Friday. It put the Mendham players in a terrific mood.

“We were really fired up,” Robinson said. “Coach (Jeff Seals) came in at 8 o’clock and was watching film and a lot of guys joined him. We were really pumped up for this game.”

They showed it with goals, building on a 7-2 halftime advantage. The Minutemen showed that this season’s team has the chance to be one of the most offensively versatile in years.

“Traditionally we’ve never been a high scoring team,” Robinson said. “I think our offense is finally clicking. We had a lot more possessions. A lot of time we’ve had a little trouble with face-offs. This game, especially in the first half, we got a lot more possessions and a lot more shots.”

Robinson, who has a vicious shot, will be playing his lacrosse for Yale next spring. Complementing him are the variety of skills that teammates Avallone and Robshaw possess.

48 bl memtvMendham’s Will Robinson squeezes off a tight angle shot against the Montville goalkeeper. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“Chandler is a great attackman,” Robinson said. “He’s a great “X” attack man. He makes a lot of feeds for us. He really gets us a lot of opportunities on offense. He’s a key asset. … Robshaw is our big lefty. He’s young, a sophomore. We had him on the field a little bit last year but he’s really picked it up this year.”

Robinson also runs the same line with Gillespie who showed his ability to dodge to the cage on Saturday.

“Gillespie is a horse,” Robinson said. “When he gets the ball and he gets a shot basically It’s whether the goalie is in the way of it or not.”

The draw hasn’t always been a strength so far this season but it was crucial for the Minutemen to get their share of face-offs against Montville’s expert Jake Drexl. Connor Holleran spent most of the time battling Drexl, but the Mendham wingmen were especially mindful of the Mustangs ability to win the draw.

29 bl memtvMendham’s Chandler Avallone launches a sweeping righty shot. Montville’s Will Robney defends. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“When we could, we just tried to keep the ball on the turf,” Robinson said. “We didn’t necessarily try to beat them on the clamp. We tried to keep it on the turf so we could fight for the ground ball. Coach said before the game to be aggressive on these guys’ hands.”

As a result the Mendham offense got a steady diet of possessions and took advantage of it. Now, that the Minutemen have a proper practice field again, they can get into a rhythm for the second half of their season.

“Our past two games (losses to West Essex, 7-6 and Morristown Beard, 9-8.) have been heartbreakers,” Robinson said. “This turf will allow us to get higher intensity practices instead of being on that asphalt. It’s definitely going to help us.”

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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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