MCT proves Delbarton can win under pressure

By Mark Kitchin


MADISON — Delbarton has won lacrosse games many different ways this year, but as the players yelled out “Red Dog”, their pressure defense scheme, they knew that capturing the Morris County Tournament was going to be a new experience for them.

Troy Hanlon’s man-advantage goal with 1:24 left in overtime lifted Delbarton to an 8-7 triumph over Chatham in the Morris County Tournament boys lacrosse final on the turf at Fairleigh Dickinson University on Tuesday.

The Green Wave rallied from a second-half, 3-goal deficit and had a two-goal spurt in the final 3:07 of the fourth quarter to tie the game. Emmet Cordrey connected off an Andrew Ford pass with :03 left in regulation to force the overtime period.

Michael Rutter scored four goals and Emmet Cordrey had two goals and four assists for the top-seeded and defending champion Green Wave. It was a third consecutive MCT title and 14th county title overall for Delbarton. Hanlon was named tournament MVP.

Will Barnett fired a hat trick and Thomas Berger had two goals and two assists for third-seeded Chatham in its second finals appearance in three years. Both of them came against Delbarton.

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The Delbarton players celebrate a tournament title. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“It was a great team effort,” Cordrey said. “We rallied back from a slow start. To get Troy Hanlon a goal was amazing. … We just didn’t have the ball much in the first half. Credit Chatham with a good game plan. Once we started picking up ground balls in the second half, we were able to do more on offense.”

Delbarton has only lost one game this season and rarely have they been forced to rally from a deficit late in games. The victory showed that under pressure the Green Wave players can still find ways to win.

The struggle was also a lesson that Delbarton can take to heart going into the state tournament.

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The Green Wave defense tries to keep Chatham’s Thomas Berger in check. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“This is a reminder that our season can end as soon as that whistle blows,” said Delbarton goalie John Cree, who made six saves.

“It’s awesome (to win it). We really wanted this thing. We wanted to keep it going. The last two classes won and we didn’t want to let anyone down.”

Chatham won face-offs and executed smart possessions to lead 5-2 at halftime. Delbarton developed a sense of urgency but they still had to find a way to beat a team hungry to earn its first MCT title.

“We sat down at halftime and everyone said ground balls, ground balls, ground balls. Okay that’s fine but what are you going to do about it ?” Delbarton coach Chuck Ruebling said. “It was on them, making up their minds that we have to start winning some face-offs and ground balls. Once we got the possessions, we felt the goals were going to come.”

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Delbarton goalkeeper John Cree is on the move. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Delbarton was playing better but still trailed 6-4 going into the fourth quarter. The duo of Cordrey to Rutter combined for a pair of goals sandwiched between a Berger score in the fourth quarter. Both scores were set up by Cordrey from behind the cage.

“Emmet has been doing it all year,” Ruebling said. “He’s the quarterback back there. Our offense is so diverse and today was his day.”

Chatham held a tenuous 7-6 lead in the final minute. However, Delbarton took advantage of a tripping penalty that was called on a Cougars defender during a breakaway. Cordrey connected on a feed from Ford that tied the game and sent the Green Wave fans into a frenzy.

“It was a great look at the end,” Cordrey said. “I was just trying to get open and get a good shot on net.

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Delbarton’s T.J. Comizio squeezes between two Chatham players for the ball. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

It was close but I think we were pretty relaxed out there. We knew there was only 20 seconds left when we inbounded it. I was just trying to go back pipe.”

In the overtime, Chatham gained the initial possession. The Cougars’ Evan Bernard took a couple of shots. Then on a scramble, the Green Wave took possession when defenseman Jack Kielty snatched a loose ball out of the air and the Green Wave called a time out.

An offsides call on the subsequent clear gave Delbarton a man-up opportunity and the Green Wave players took advantage of it.

“It’s a big blur, but I remember coach calling a play, and emmett Cordrey saw me wide open,” Hanlon said. “I skipped up top and hitched. I took one more step and brought everything into it. I saw a little part of the bottom net open, I brought it overhead and hoped for the best.”

Hanlon, who Ruebling said was probably the most improved player on the team from last season to now, fired a shot that hit the back of the net. He was swamped by the Delbarton players piled on top of each other in a corner of the field and began celebrating another MCT title.

“It was a hard battle,” Hanlon said. Our defense kept us in it. The coaching staff called some great plays. The defense got us the ball back and we were able to deliver on offense.”


About mcvbb

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

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