SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - The Randolph Rams boys’ lacrosse team pulled off a decisive 12-3 upset victory over the Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Tuesday in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament.
The 11th-seeded Rams relied on their defense and goaltending and used a huge second half rally to take down the third-seeded Raiders in their home territory and advance to the North Jersey, Group 3 semifinals.
The Rams got off to a hot start when brothers Jake and J.P. Southren scored early goals as they took a 3-0 lead into the second quarter. Jake and J.P. would eventually score three goals each on the day, with J.P. also adding three assists by the time the game was over.
Despite Randolph’s quick start, the Raiders began the second quarter with two unanswered goals and gained the home crowd momentum. Randolph senior Colin O’Brien took some momentum back with 6:28 left in the half, with a blazing shot that beat the goaltender and gave the Rams a 4-3 halftime lead. The game could have been tied going into halftime, but Rams’ goaltender Matthew Carle came up with a clutch save as time was running down.
The second half started ff as a defensive battle until J.P. Southren picked up a loose ball and scored his second goal of the day on a breakaway with 6:52 remaining in the quarter. Senior Mike Turner added another goal with less than two minutes remaining in the third to give Randolph a 6-3 lead going into the last quarter.
That's when Randolph delivered the dagger. Junior Jesse Bush set the tone in the fourth when he won the opening faceoff, took it the length of the field, and ripped an awesome running shot into the net just 11 seconds into the quarter. The Rams, with the momentum, used stout defense and goaltending to cause turnovers that led to five more fourth-quarter goals, coming from five different players.
Ram’s goaltender Carle made 11 saves, and, with the help of his defense, shut out the Raiders the entire second half. Both Carle and Randolph head coach John Noslanski gave some credit to defensemen John Castro for shutting down Scotch Plains’ best players all game long.
“The defense really stepped up today,” said Carle, “it just feels great to come out and beat them.”
After the game, Noslanski was quick to praise his team’s efforts and give the defense a lot of credit for the big second half. “We just stuck to our original game plan,” Noslanski said. “In the second half we really stepped up and shut them out.”
The stat sheet was a coaches dream, with eight different Randolph players getting points on the day. T.J. Lindquist and Zach Schuster added a goal apiece on the game.
Randolph’s semifinal game will be at seventh-seeded Morristown on Thursday, May 22 at 4 p.m.