May 29, 2014 at 12:18 AM
SOMERVILLE, NJ – Its been 27 years in the making, but the Westfield boys lacrosse team is finally back on top.
Courtesy of a four-goal performance from Pat Aslanian, the Blue Devils strolled to their first Group 4 title since 1987, with a 10-6 victory over Southern Regional High School.
“I’m excited,” Aslanian said. “It’s the first state championship since 1987. It’s a surreal feeling. It really hasn’t set in yet. I’m excited to celebrate this with my team and celebrate it with my teammates.”
Westfield got on the scoreboard early in the game and never looked back, scoring the first three goals in the group final. Pat Aslanian, along with his brother Chris sandwiched goals around Luke Prybylski’s first tally to put the Blue Devils up 3-0.
Southern responded quickly when Chris Smith scored twice in a span of 90 seconds to cut the Rams’ deficit to one. However, Prybylski beat the first quarter buzzer with a goal in the final 8 seconds to put Westfield back ahead by two. The Rams never got any closer.
Prybylski said the goal was huge for the team because it gave the Blue Devils momentum heading into the second quarter.
“We kind of separated ourselves from the pack and I think we never looked back after that,” he said. “We felt like we were the better team and I think we showed it.”
Westfield controlled the pace and flow of the game for the next two quarters, taking an 8-4 lead into the fourth quarter before Southern made one final push.
Brendan Mullen and Shawn McManus scored 90 seconds apart in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter to pull the Rams within two goals, but it was just not enough to overtake the powerful Blue Devil attack.
Pat Decker answered quickly for Westfield, scored 45 seconds after McManus, pulling the momentum right back to the Blue Devils sideline. Leading by three, Pat Aslanian added an insurance goal, his fourth of the game, to seal the victory.
“Its amazing,” Prybylski said of winning the Group 4 title. “Sandy [Mamory], our athletic director, came up and gave me a big hug. We’ve come so close the past couple of years, but being able to break the barrier was amazing for this town. I think Westfield Lacrosse is going to be back on the map for the next couple of years.”
The Blue Devils now move on to their first Tournament of Champions in school history. Having lost seven of their last nine games coming into the state tournament, Westfield has peaked at the right time.
Head coach Patrick Tuohy has his team believing they can beat anyone on the schedule, which Pat Aslanian believes is dangerous for future opponents.
"At one point in the season, we were the No. 1 strength of schedule,” he said. “And we clearly hit a rough patch. And now we're piecing it together. We're playing our best ball in May, which is what matters. Doesn't matter how you do before playoffs. We're one of the last six teams playing, and that's an amazing feeling."
The ToC begins on Saturday at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. The final six schools will be seeded with the top two schools receiving a first round bye. Seeds will be released on Thursday.