West Morris boys get back on track

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsitylacrosse

PEQUANNOCK — What can you expect to see at a West Morris boys lacrosse games? Well, this season you just never know what to expect. The Wolfpack have had an enigmatic campaign so far. Just when you think, the team might fall apart, they put up a performance that shows promise.

On Saturday afternoon, West Morris was all business in a 15-5 triumph over Pequannock

Ryan Muscatella fired a hat trick, Matt Carfaro had two goals and six assists and Jeremy Angle, Ryan Antonelli and Connor Sloan each scored twice for the Wolfpack (6-5).

Dan Duffy scored a pair of goals and Liam Lilienthal, Tyler Macejka and Andrew Marra also tallied for the Golden Panthers.

44 bl wmpq

Pequannock goalie Austin Geissel comes out to pick off a pass by West Morris’ Matt Carfaro. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

West Morris took control early and built a 7-2 first-quarter lead. The Wolfpack’s momentum took it the rest of the way as the Golden Panthers failed to muster a challenge. It was a much needed bounce-back victory after a frustrating 18-6 loss to Chatham on Thursday that had the Wolfpack shaking their heads once again.

“We thought that one got a little out of hand and we were pretty sore about the way it ended,” Carfaro said. “We wanted to get out really early and put a bunch of goals in and get up big.”

The Wolfpack have been a puzzling team. Rarely do they have all facets of their game working together. In recent days, they worked on their face-offs in order to get more possessions and then concentrated on finding ways of making better use of their opportunities. It seemed to help.

“We’ve always been capable of (good shots) but in more recent games we’ve been turning the ball over and haven’t been possessing the ball as much as we should have,” senior goalie Alex Kennedy said. “Now were starting to get back on track.”

11 bl wmpqWest Morris’ Pat Kennedy works his way past a sprawling Pequannock player on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Although they play in different divisions, the Wolfpack and the Golden Panthers have some history. West Morris eliminated Pequannock in last year’s Morris County Tournament. They expected a battle from the Golden Panthers this year on their home turf.

“I didn’t really remember a bunch of players but I knew they were a scrappy team that would give us a good effort,” Kennedy said.

West Morris didn’t give them a chance to mount an upset. West Morris scored the first five goals of the game and built a 7-2 lead at the end of the quarter. Connecting early and often was the key as the Wolfpack were able to develop a rhythm in their attack.

41 bl wmpqWest Morris’ Max Evans keeps his balance while being checked by Pequannock’s Jake Tengl in first half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“When we’re settled as an offense and getting long possessions, our defense isn’t tired out by the third quarter,” Carfaro said. “And we were getting the best shot, not a shot.”

It also helped that the Wolfpack showed some balance on offense. Six different players connected in the opening period to help West Morris build a 5-goal margin.

“The second middie line got in on the action and we were rotating four guys on attack,” Carfaro said. “I think everyone got in there.”

While the Wolfpack offense kept building on its possessions, the defense was rested and ready to challenge the Golden Panthers when they threatened to score. Kennedy’s brother Pat Kennedy, Matt Isenburg, Mike Gutkind, Christian Atalese and Brian Santos could be aggressive knowing that their team had a lead to work with. West Morris led 9-4 at the half and only allowed Pequannock a fourth-quarter score.

3 bl wmpqWest Morris’ Ryan Muscatella aims for the cage during first half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“We don’t have the biggest guys on defense but we have quick defenders who can get on their hands pretty well,” Alex Kennedy said. “We have breakdowns sometimes when we’ve been playing defense for a long time. That contributes to a lot of our mistakes.”

If things are starting to jell for West Morris, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Upcoming games against Kinnelon, West Essex and Watchung Hills are fair challenges for a team that seems to be ironing the kinks out before tournament play starts in the coming weeks.

“It was very important win,” Carfaro said. “We were sliding a little as of late. We played some tough teams so it was a good to get back on track.”

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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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