CHATHAM, NJ - One down, four to go.
The Chatham boys lacrosse team took its first step toward a third straight Group 2 state championship on Saturday when it overwhelmed Northern Valley of Demarest, 17-2, at Cougar Field.
It will take three more victories to win the section and a fourth to three-peat as Group 2 champion. Chatham plays its final home game of the tournament on Tuesday in the sectional quarterfinals.
But Chatham showed that it wasn't looking ahead by coming out hard from the start against Demarest (5-11).
Adam Drury won the opening faceoff and got the ball to David Gill, who raced toward the goal and swung the ball inside to Scott Lynch for the finish. It took all of 12 seconds for Chatham (15-6) to take a 1-0 lead. A minute later, Gill received a pass from Thomas Berger and blasted in a shot from the right of the cage for a 2-0 lead.
Goals by Robert Rhoads, Bryn Casey, Will Barnett and Jared Wood made it 6-0. Gill netted an unassisted goal with 29 seconds left in the first period and Barnett converted a pass from Rich Berger 10 seconds later, boosting it to 8-0 through one period.
"I thought we played well early and throughout the game," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said.
Nine players scored for Chatham, which emptied its bench in the second half. Matt Grilli, Matt Nestler, Sean Landolfi and Will Carey each played a quarter in goal for the Cougars. Demarest got its goals from Gian Zurlini and Damian Faris.
Dan Barkhorn and Joey Nappa finished with three goals apiece for Chatham. The highlight of the second half for Chatham was a sprint to the net by Robert Melchionna. The defensive middie dodged his way through the Demarest defense to score his second goal of the season.
"We basically wanted to play really hard, get up, have a good game and move on to the next round," Chatham middie Evan Bernard said.