Parsippany Hills, Parsippany programs start off with a thriller

By Mark Kitchin


If future Parsippany Hills-Parsippany lacrosse games are as much fun as the inaugural game, the crosstown rivals are in for a lot of fun.

Donald Bendzak connected on a fast-break goal with 44 seconds left in regulation to give Parsippany Hills a 12-11 victory over Parsippany in the first varsity boys lacrosse game for either program on the turf at Parsippany Hills High School.

Bendzak finished with seven goals including the game-tying and game-winning scores. Patrick Lanagan scored five goals and Joe Stanton had a hat trick for the Red Hawks.

A lively crowd was on hand to see both boys and girls lacrosse initiate their varsity programs. The boys teams truly put on a show.

3 blx phparParsippany Hills’ coach Steve Vecchione and the Vikings started off its first season with a victory. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

It was a one-goal game with less than a minute left,” Parsippany Hills coach Steve Vecchione said. “It’s the start of an awesome rivalry. I expect for many years to come this is going to be a battle regardless of how the teams do against other opponents. When you play cross-town rivals it’s always going to be special.”

The Parsippany youth program is three years old and encompasses the town. Players from both teams knew each other very well since many of them were teammates.

I thought it was really fun because I know a lot of guys on the other side of town,” Bendzak said. “I was talking to all the defenders on the other side. I know all three of them.”

Parsippany Hills trailed 3-1 after the first quarter but then led by as much as 6-3 in the second period. Parsippany cut it to 6-5 at halftime and the action was back-and-forth until the very end.

Both teams proved they could score, the deciding factor was in gaining possessions.

52 blx phparDonald Bendzak puts in an early goal for Parsippany Hills. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

I felt the first quarter they really dominated ground balls. We came back and started to fight and make ground balls more 50-50,” Vecchione said. “The second quarter it went to our advantage. They did an excellent job facing off. That gave them more possessions. We needed those 50-50 balls.”

Parsippany had a 10-9 lead over three quarters of wild scoring. In the final period the game got tight. Vikings’ Midfielder Dom Musto’s goal made it a 10-10 tie at the 7:10 mark. The Red Hawks got the lead back on Alex Wang’s score a minute later. Bendzak, a sophomore midfielder, tied the game again with a goal at the 3:15 mark.

Donald’s biggest challenge is Donald believing in Donald,” Vecchione said. “He’s got unbelievable talent and ability. He would have had four or five more if he didn’t hit pipes or put his shots on goal. He’s a strong player. He’s a young player. This is a young team. We have two seniors and three juniors.”

60 blx phparAndy Hill and the Parsippany Red Hawks nearly earned a road win in their first varsity game. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Parsippany was able to kill off a minute slashing penalty, but the Vikings prevailed on a fast break goal at even strength. Sean Rice took a pass from a teammate and found Bendzak open near the crease with only the goalie to beat.

I just remember getting the pass and shooting it right under the goalies legs,” Bendzak said. “I was calling for the ball. I was telling them to pass it to me.”

Minutes later teams from both schools, boys and girls met in the center of the field for a picture to commemorate the event. There may be other games and bigger victories but the first of anything is always something special.

They all know each other,” Vecchione said. “They are all good friends. They all played in the youth programs. It’s one youth program that feeds two different schools so they know each other better than the coaches know them.

They are a first year program like we are so we are both starting off at the same level. It was a battle. They came to play. They had a lot of pride. They fought hard for ground balls. Fortunately, we came on the positive side of a very tight game.”


About mcvbb

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

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