SUMMIT, NJ - In their previous matchup this season, the Summit High School boys varsity lacrosse team narrowly beat Westfield, 4-3, with goalie Sam Bebout making a heroic save inside the last 20 seconds to allow the Hilltoppers to emerge victorious.
The game was scrappy, tenacious, and a bit sloppy. Both teams played solid defense, but the offensive execution left a fair amount to be desired.
Most of the crowd at A.L. Johnson were expecting a near mirror-image contest in the Union County final. What they saw was a Summit team peaking at the right time, executing with precision on offense, upping the ante on grit, playing a swarming defense, and comfortably winning the game, 9-3.
While this game lacked the drama of their contest earlier in the season, it was no less hard-fought. Summit's improvement is palatable, and they jumped out to a solid lead in the second quarter and never really looked back.
Matt Fischetti opened the scoring for Summit less than three minutes into the game. The first quarter was played at a frenetic pace, and ended with the Hilltoppers in front, 1-0.
The second quarter saw Summit build its lead to 4-0. First, Chris Zanelli ripped a shot from the outside, then Kyle Waldron found James Strabley on the doorstep, followed by John Cordrey scoring unassisted -- all within the first six minutes of the quarter -- and Summit was flying.
Westfield finally got on the board with 1:27 remaining in the half, with junior middie Patrick Aslanian putting a bounce shot past Bebout. Whatever momentum the goal gave the Blue Devils was snuffed out a minute later, when Cordrey scored again on a wrap-around to put Summit up 5=1 at halftime.
Strabley scored on laser from the right side to make it 6-1 Summit in the third quarter, but was answered by Westfield's Chris Callahan. Strabley found Fischetti on a cut to the goal, the senior's quick release beating goalie Toby Bergdorf -- who replaced Alex D'Amato to start the second half -- and it was 7-2 at the end of the third quarter.
The Blue Devils narrowed the gap to four on a goal by Christopher Aslanian off a pretty pass from Patrick Decker, but Summit scored the final two goals of the game, with Fischetti getting his Hat Trick score off a feed from Connor Murphy, and Zanelli snagging his second of the game into a vacated goal, as Westfield attempted to double the ball.
After the game, Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson admitted his team had elevated their performance overall and, especially, when compared to the first Summit-Westfield game. "This was a totally different performance from us, execution-wise, on both sides of the ball," he said. "We continue to improve, get better, and our players are comfortable with each other, seeing the looks more, and are doing a good job understanding the situations we are in."