CHATHAM, NJ - St. Augustine Prep made a 2 1/2 hour trek north to play a boys lacrosse game on Monday. Joey Eisele made the journey a rewarding one when he scored with four seconds left to give the Hermits a stunning 6-5 victory over Chatham at Cougar Field.
"With our entire schedule we're looking for competition and with that we have to travel," Hermits coach J.C. Valore said. "Chatham is a great program. Chatham is just one of those teams that we aim to play and beat. Fortunately, we came out on top. They're very, very good and like I said before we completely respect coach (Tony) Calandra and his program."
Chatham goalie Matt Nestler, who made seven saves in the second half, shut out St. Augustine (8-5) in the third quarter when the Cougars scored three times to grab a 5-4 edge. Evan Bernard broke the 4-4 tie for Chatham when he made a charge from behind the net and scored as he was falling forward with just 11.9 seconds left in the third period.
But Dean DiSimone scored to tie it with 3:58 left in the fourth quarter before setting up Eisele's winning goal in the closing seconds.
"The kid (Eisele) made a great catch," Nestler said of the winning goal. "I thought he dropped it. Our D was there, the kid just made a fantastic play and bounced it into the top left corner."
Chatham goalie Matt Nestler talks about game and winning goal by Eisele in video below
Chatham had a chance to take the lead when it Connor Sardini grabbed a ground ball with 2:08 left, but the Cougars turned the ball over and the Hermits called time out with 44 seconds left.
"We tried an isolation play and that didn't work out," Valore said. "In the end, we had a guy make a play and it was Dean DiSimone, our senior, who dodged a goal-line extended and found our lefty in tight. They did a great job of shutting our lefty, Joe Eisele down the entire game. That was probably all we got from him."
Eisele's first goal of the game had given the Hermits a 3-2 lead in the second quarter. Chase Young's goal then made it 4-2 for St. Augustine before the break.
"It was a long ride and we knew coming into it we were playing a real good team," Eisele said. "We knew we were short on time. I was just trying to get into my spot and look for the ball and Dean (DiSimone) got it to me. We usually come really far and wind up with a one-goal loss. This is going to be a different ride home."
Chatham got off to a good start when Bernard scooped up a ground ball and quickly passed it forward to Rich Berger, who finished his chance to make it 1-0 in the first. Later in the period, Austin Pierce netted the first of his three goals, on a feed from David Gill, to give Chatham a 2-1 edge.
Will Fox scored just seven seconds into the second period for the Hermits when he won the faceoff and scored to make it 2-2.
The third period belonged to Chatham. Pierce cut in front and received a feed from Berger before connecting with a shot over his left shoulder. Pierce then scored off another pass from Berger to tie it at 4-4 before Bernard made his unassisted goal for the 5-4 lead.
"We could have moved the ball a little better.," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "We moved the ball against their zone, then they played man and we stopped moving."