Defending champion Delbarton overcomes Mo-Beard upset bid

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountlacrosse

Delbarton’s Jack Crowley thought he played so poorly in the first half of the Green Wave’s game against Morristown-Beard that he felt like walking home. As it turned out, he connected when his team needed it.

It was Crowley’s man-advantage goal that lifted Delbarton to an 8-7 victory over Morristown-Beard in a semifinal contest of the Morris County Tournament that was played at Madison High School on Saturday. The defending champions advance to play Mountain Lakes on Tuesday at the final at FDU-Florham.

55 bll mct semiT.J. Comizio (33) and J. J. McBride (14) celebrate an early Delbarton goal. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

J. J. McBride and Emmett Cordrey each scored a pair of goals for Delbarton. Crowley notched the eventual game-winner. He finished off a Michael Rutter feed for a man-advantage goal with 8:52 left in the game to make it 8-6.

“I didn’t play my best this game,” Crowley said. “I went into halftime and I had to focus myself. When it came to the fourth quarter and I had the opportunity to shoot, I wasn’t missing.”

It wouldn’t have been hard for Crowley to slip away. He lives a block from Madison High and has a sister that attends the school. He also had plenty of time to consider it, since the game was halted by two 30-minute lightning delays including one that was just before the half.

“It messed a little bit with both team’s psyche,” Crowley said. “Not just ours but theirs; it messed with both our heads.”

A Crimson slashing penalty provided a man-advantage opportunity. Crowley, who is known as one of the team’s better finishers, wanted to get the Green Wave back on track.

“We lost the ball up top and I remember Michael (Rutter) fought for it really hard,” Crowley said. “He got the ball back, ran it down, drew my guy. I was just open in the middle of the field. I put it right under the crossbar.”

87 bll mct semiTrevor Baptiste’s face-off prowess kept Morristown-Beard in Saturday’s MCT semifinals. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Delbarton respects every opponent but it’s safe to say that the tenacity of Morristown-Beard surprised the players a bit. The Crimson, in their second MCT semifinal appearance in more than a decade, seemed right at home battling the Green Wave. The performance of faceoff-midfielder Trevor Baptiste made a difference. He gave his team a 12-7 advantage on the draw and also scored twice.

“We knew they would give us a tough game,” Crowley said. “Their face-off guy Baptiste is very good. He kept them in it for awhile. They were very good on offense. We didn’t expect them to be this close but we expected a good opponent.”

Losing so many face-offs made the Green Wave offense a little anxious when they got the ball, which is something it will have to defend against.

“We were playing too quick. We weren’t relaxed,” Crowley said. “We weren’t valuing possession and it got into our head that we kept losing the ball. We have to figure something out where we hold the ball better.”

95 bll mct semi

Delbarton’s Aaron Slodowitz kept tabs on Morristown-Beard sharpshooter Ted Hatfield most of the afternoon. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Another surprise was that the Crimson stayed in the contest without a big game from either of their top scorers. The Delbarton defense did a great job of limiting Teddy Hatfield and Thomas Rago to a goal apiece.

“I played Rago a lot,” Delbarton defenseman Chad Otterman said. “We knew that two attackmen had well over 100 points. We knew that we had to get on their hands. We had to be good with our feet. Communication was definitely big today. We tried to get on their hands. They are great feeders. We didn’t want to give them time to feed. Hatfield is very good – a very good feeder. He’s like Rago. (Aaron) Slodowitz and (Jack) Kielty did a great job playing against him. We kept him in check and did what we needed to do.”

Delbarton led 5-1 at one point in the second quarter, but Morristown-Beard rallied by scoring four of the next five goals. Rago got his lone goal with 6 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 6-5 at halftime.

It’s tough to say whether the rain delay helped or hurt the Crimson. While it may have sapped the team’s momentum going into the second half, Morristown-Beard is not as deep a team. It may have gave them some much needed recovery time on the warm afternoon. The Green Wave has some experience in big game delays, since last year’s semifinal against Kinnelon was plagued with lightning stoppages.

70 bll mct semiA thrilled Morristown-Beard crowd had plenty of reasons to cheer their heroes. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“Last year it was the same weather against Kinnelon,” Otterman said. “We were there for two hours. We knew we had to come back with a lot of energy. We did. We pulled it out.”

The teams exchanged goals in the third quarter. Four quick passes set up a McBride’s second goal off a pass from Cordrey at 8:55 to give Delbarton a 7-5 edge. The Crimson responded 43 seconds later when Baptiste scored off a Hatfield feed.

The contest was a one-goal game until Crowley’s score. The team were in stalemate for the next seven minutes unit Kevin Gill’s surprise goal with 51 seconds left cut the Crimson deficit to 7-6. Delbarton won the face-off on a procedure call but a ground ball by the Crimson’s Nick Rella led to a Morristown-Beard timeout with 35 seconds left. The Green Wave pressured the clear and forced a Crimson player to step off-sides forcing the turnover. Then Delbarton then ran out the clock and began to savor another meeting with their old friends.

“I’m really excited for that game,” Crowley said. “We had a great one earlier in the year. It’s going to be another great one on Tuesday.”

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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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