NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – For each of the past two seasons, the catalyst in the Pioneers’ boys’ lacrosse team’s side has been getting through the second round of the South Jersey, Group 1 state tournament.
Thanks to a nine point performance from senior James Burke, New Providence will have a third chance to advance to the section semifinals as the Pioneers blasted their state tournament opening round opponent, Lower Cape May, 12-1, on Friday at Lieder Field.
Burke scored four times in the first quarter, to go along with five assists to lead the Pioneers through the first round for the third consecutive year.
“I think we were just playing as a team,” Burke said, “Not trying to do too much, just relaxing, being patient on offense.”
The Pioneers took the lead early in the game and never looked back. Junior attacker Jack Harvey scored the first of his four goals 45 seconds into the contest, which set the tone for the first quarter.
Burke then followed with two goals in 30 seconds before Harvey and senior Jon Ebert found the net in quick fashion. By the time the first quarter ended, New Providence led 7-0 and each of the Pioneers’ attackers had notched a goal.
New Providence played with the patience and extra passes they lacked earlier in the week but had in their repertoire in the middle of the season.
After struggling in a loss to Watchung Hills on Monday, head coach Vinny Carangelo said nothing changed this week in their preparations for the state tournament
“We talked about playing unselfish, playing for each other,” Carangelo said. “Its not about ‘me’ or personal stats. We say that all the time, but in the playoffs that’s bigger than ever. If we want a chance to continue to advance and continue to pursue the dream we have, we have to play better.”
Leading by seven after one, four different Pioneers scored in the second quarter, including John Matsikoudis’s second goal of the season.
Garrett Pope picked up his first career post-season victory, stopping six of Lower Cape May’s seven shots.
The Pioneers await the winner of Barnegat and Delaware Valley, who play their first round game on Saturday morning. The South Jersey, Group 1 quarterfinal will take place at Lieder Field on Tuesday.