BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - In their final game of the season, the Governor Livingston Highlanders boys’ lacrosse team fell to the archrival New Providence Pioneers, 19-10. The loss capped a frustrating season for Governor Livingston as the team finishes with a 6-11 record. New Providence, with the win, finishes the regular season at 14-3.
Senior Brian Hutton capped his stellar career in a Governor Livingston uniform by scoring seven goals to go along with one assist. Ryan Findeisen, Matt Rothfeld, and Quinn Haddad also scored goals.
While the final result may have not indicated it, Governor Livingston head coach Chet Parlavecchio was pleased with his team’s effort in the season finale. Going up against one of the state’s top teams is no small feat but the Highlanders held their own in what turned out to be a rather physical game.
“There’s no doubt that the effort was there tonight,” Parlavecchio said. “We needed to play our best game of the season to win but we didn’t execute how we should have.”
If execution were strictly about physicality in Thursday’s game, both the Highlanders and Pioneers would receive “A pluses” in that area. Thursday’s game featured several minor tussles and jawing between the two teams.
“A lot of these kids grew up together and know each other so that had a lot to do with the physicality,” Parlavecchio said. “Guys just wanted to win badly tonight.”
New Providence head coach Vinny Carangelo agreed with Parlavecchio’s reasoning for the physicality.
“The fact that a lot of these kids grew up playing together, you knew this game would be physical,” Carangelo said. “Governor Livingston was fired up tonight and they made us work.”
The New Providence duo of Jack Harvey (6 goals) and Johnny Shapahzian (7 goals) certainly put in work and proved problematic for the Highlanders throughout the night. Both scored multiple goals in a 6-1 first half run that put the Highlanders on their heels early.
Refusing to fold, the Highlanders responded with a 4-2 run of their own to pull to within three just before halftime. The Governor Livingston run didn’t faze New Providence. Like good teams do, the Pioneers didn’t crumble and responded with two goals in the waning moments of the half to extend their lead to five. The Pioneers’ late surge not only sparked them going into the half, but took the air out of the Highlanders.
“This game is all about momentum swings and the end of the half gave New Providence back the momentum,” Parlavecchio said. “Going into the half down two to three is a lot better than going in down four to five like we did. But throughout the entire game, every time we’d pop a couple goals, they’d come right back with a run of their own.”
The Pioneers’ run to end the first half proved to be a springboard for the second half. The Pioneers scored two more early goals to give them a then game-high seven-goal lead.
The Pioneers’ ability to turn it on when it matters most cannot be overlooked. But turning it “on” and “off” often signifies a team that becomes laxed periodically during a game, which can prove to be detrimental. And for a team like New Providence that’s gearing up for tournament play on Saturday, playing laxed won’t cut it against the state’s top teams.
Carangelo was not happy with his team’s lapses during Thursday’s contest.
“First off, you have to give Governor Livingston credit because they played well,” Carangelo said. “But we had too many ups and down tonight. We have to learn to give 100% all the time and I don’t think we did tonight. The issue is we get up on teams but we can’t it keep it up. I guess we like the drama of closer games.”
Carangelo can take assurance in the fact that he has two dangerous weapons at his disposal in Harvey and Shapahzian. Talented players and athletes like Harvey and Shapahzian can compensate for any team’s lapses during a game.
“They’re both studs,” Carangelo said of Harvey/Shapahzian. “Jack’s scored over 300 points in his career, which is just ridiculous. Jack is as good as he wants to be. As for Johnny, he was excellent tonight too. You can tell he’s a coach’s son through his overall knowledge of the game.”
Like Carangelo, Parlavecchio witnessed a stud of how his own put on a show in Thursday’s game. Hutton played one of the best games of his career and helped keep Governor Livingston within striking distance early. Hutton scored two of the team’s first four goals and scored five of Governor Livingston’s six second half goals.
“How Brian played tonight is how you go out,” Parlavecchio said. "He’s our captain and he showed why tonight. But not just Brian, all of our seniors played well tonight.”