Youth movement has given Mountain Lakes boys a lift

By Mark Kitchin


MOUNTAIN LAKES — Ryan Frawley may have scored three goals in Mountain Lakes’ victory on Thursday but that didn’t excuse him from the postgame duties assigned to any other Lakers sophomore. Frawley could be seen running about the turf field picking up the small orange cones that dotted the sidelines. A job is a job.

Frawley joined senior attackman Christian Cuccinello with three-goal games in Mountain Lakes’ 8-4 win over West Essex. The win advanced the Lakers to Saturday’s North Group I final against Glen Ridge. Morristown High will also be competing in a sectional final while Delbarton and Morristown-Beard will be active in Non-Public semifinals that do not have North-South designations.

The emergence of Frawley at attack has given the Lakers a lift. He is part of a sophomore class that includes Chet Morgis, who scored a goal on Thursday, and face-off man Johnny Becker who are making visible contributions to the 19-3 Lakers effort.

35 bl st mlwe grkMountain Lakes teammates congratulate Ryan Frawley (23) on one of his three goals on Thursday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“At the beginning of the season I started on jayvee but I worked myself up to a varsity spot,” Frawley said. “I’ve known all these guys for a couple of years. It’s not that much different playing with them. It wasn’t that hard fitting in with the program. I played with some scrimmages with them in the beginning of the season. I’m definitely comfortable with them. … Not many sophomores get to play (varsity) so I’m lucky to have that chance.”

Frawley has 22 goals on the season which is tied for fourth on the team. Part of the reason for his scoring prowess is because Lakers opponents are keying on teammates Cuccinello and Brad Smith, who are recognized as more experienced offensive weapons. Since he always seems to see the short stick defender, Frawley is not afraid to take advantage of it.

“Not many people have thought of me as a threat,” Frawley said. “I get some shorties here and there but I’m used to it. There is always going to be some pressure during the game but you have to fight through it. If Cuccinello is going to get doubled, me and Brad have to step up and so do some of our middies.”

12 bl st mlwe grkMountain Lakes’ face-off middie Johnny Becker is another member of the youth movement. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Having the sophomores step up is not necessarily a trend for Mountain Lakes which is known for its depth and has traditionally made it difficult for underclassmen to see major minutes on the varsity level. This particular group of sophomores are earning their keep and deserve the minutes they have been getting.

“These guys have done a lot of work and we have a lot of other sophomores that are really pushing right now which is nice,” Mountain Lakes coach Tim Flynn said. “We also have a great senior and junior class. It’s a very good team right now.

“I think the sophomores look at the upperclassmen and try to emulate them. I think the pressure is (on the sophomores). They are looking to live up to what the seniors are doing.”

The Lakers triumph over a physical West Essex squad was a solid one. Mountain Lakes built a 4-1 halftime advantage with the help of two Frawley goals. The sophomore’s third score was probably his most important. A third-quarter goal by the Knights’ Julian Lorenzen and Matt Campanella’s score early in the fourth quarter made it 5-3 and put West Essex on the verge of getting back in the game. The Lakers wouldn’t let them.

Frawley cut across the front of the crease and caught a feed from Cuccinello from the right side. In one motion he fired the hip high shot to the right side of the West Essex net with 7:52 left to make it a 3-goal game and halt the Knights momentum.

63 bl st mlwe grkEven though he started the season on jayvee, Ryan Frawley is tied for fourth on the team in goals scored for Mountain Lakes. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“They started coming back with some motivation at halftime,” Frawley said. “I came in from the backside. They fed me great and I had the chance to put it in the goal.”

The Lakers defense then put the game away. Mountain Lakes close defenders, John Spagnola, Jack Siddron and Jake Schuckman have rebounded well since the team’s tough performance in the Morris County Tournament final. The Knights only managed one more goal, but that was after the Lakers re-established a four-goal lead.

As the tournament progresses it will be interesting to see how opponents handle Frawley, especially if the sophomore keeps scoring. For now, the sophomore is happy to put forth his best effort. He’s just scoring goals and scooping up cones.


About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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