Mackie’s goal lifts Delbarton past Mountain Lakes, 12-11

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

MOUNTAIN LAKES — On Saturday morning Delbarton lacrosse players spent their team breakfast hearing about some of the great games that past teams have played against Mountain Lakes and the importance of their spirited rivalry. By lunchtime the current Green Wave players forged a classic contest of their own to remember and add to that legacy.

Midfielder and face-off specialist Conor Mackie scored with four seconds remaining in regulation to give Delbarton a 12-11 triumph over Mountain Lakes in a game on the Lakers turf.

Jordan Dowiak scored five times to pace the Green Wave (6-2). J. J. McBride fired a hat trick and added three assists. His last goal tied the game at 11-all with 1:00 left in regulation. He also assisted on Mackie’s game-winner which was a low righty shot from the top of the box.

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J.J. McBride (14) had three goals and three assists in Delbarton’s victory on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Senior midfielder Christian Cuccinello scored three goals and Zander Kotsen also had a hat trick for the Lakers. Zach Lesko and Brad Landry each had a pair of goals for Mountain Lakes (7-2).

“My brother Jack came and spoke to us and told us how big a rivalry this is,” J. J. McBride said. “Not much needs to be said about this game but he definitely gave us something about all the history that is behind it and how big a game it is for these programs.”

The older McBride, who played varsity from 2005-07 and had a brilliant college career at Princeton and the University of North Carolina, is considered to be among the most talented attackmen ever to play at the private school, so his words carry some weight. Of course, the Green Wave players are familiar with the spirited rivalry they have with the Lakers, but a little extra prompting didn’t hurt.

“Hearing about the tradition that this game has definitely gave us a lot of motivation,” Mackie said.

With 10 seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied at 11-all, Delbarton called time out in order to set up a shot for the game-winner. McBride had the ball at the low left side of the field and had to make a quick decision.

18 bl delbmlMountain Lakes’ Christian Cuccinello sees nothing but Delbarton defenders blocking his path. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“J. J. had been doing a great job the whole game,” Mackie said. “He made a great dodge through the slide. I was open up top. The ball kind of bounced my way and at that point I wanted to finish it.”

Mackie’s righty shot nicked the low left corner of the net. It was all that it took for the Green Wave to snatch the road victory. The Delbarton players were conscious about ball placement with Lakers second-half keeper Kevin Beimfohr.

“We knew the goalie in the first half kind of dropped low,” McBride said. “We knew in the second half the goalie was great up top and we thought that if we shot low on him we would have some success. That’s what we did near the end of the game.”

The contest was a see-saw affair that often mirrored the face-off situation. Mackie, and occasionally teammate Connor Kirst, battled Lakers Robert Gossett for possessions. The Green Wave built a 4-1 lead early in the first quarter only to see it evaporate into a 4-4 tie by the end of the period. Scores by Will McCarthy, Dowiak and T. J. Comizio helped Delbarton open up a 7-5 edge by halftime.

Near the end of the second quarter, the Lakers’ Gossett started using a long stick and the Lakers got more aggressive on the wings.

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Delbarton’s Connor Kirst and Mountain Lakes’ Robert Gossett battle on the draw in first-half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“In this game it’s all momentum and face offs are a good way to swing it and bring it back in. It’s something that we both work really hard at,” Mackie said. “They made a great adjustment putting a long stick out there trying to counteract our fast breaks. They did a great job shutting off the wings. We really couldn’t work as a team that well. It was a matter of being able to bring the ball back. They harass you when you try to pick up that ground ball.”

The see-saw battle of courage and skill was on for the rest of the second half. The Lakers rallied twice to get to within a goal before finally tying the game at 9-9 when Davis Thompson squeezed in a crease feed from the left side with 4:05 left in the third quarter. Kotsen’s goal at 9:52 gave the Lakers their first lead in the game but it was matched by a Dowiak score at 5:57. It was his fifth and final goal of the game.

“Jordan is one of the hardest working kids on the team,” McBride said. “This was great for him. He really has been playing well this season. It’s good to see him have such a great game today.”

The Lakers regained the lead when Lesko took a feed from Landry just inside the restraining line and connected with 1:41 left to make it an 11-10 game. The Green Wave retaliated quickly as Mackie won the draw himself. Delbarton worked the ball around quickly and found J. J. McBride. His tight-angle shot, which was about hip high, slipped just inside the left goalpost with a minute left.

“I just kind of got my hands free and let it go,” McBride said. “I just got lucky.”

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Mountain Lakes’ Christian Cuccinello makes a move but Delbarton defenseman Aaron Slodowitz is ready for him. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mackie won the crucial following face-off. The Green Wave got the ball downfield and eventually decided to call a time out to set up a play. Delbarton executed it properly and now its season has momentum. If the team does well against Chatham on Tuesday, an eventual top seed in the Morris County Tournament would be expected. Of course, the Green Wave also expects another game with the Lakers during the MCT, and perhaps even another contest to be decided in the final seconds — just like on Saturday.

“It’s a rivalry,” Mackie said. “It’s a game we all look forward to. We wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way. It’s just awesome.”

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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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