CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham seniors brought long-kept memories of last year's matchup against Ramapo into the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 2 boys lacrosse semifinal on Wednesday.
"We've been working all year to get back to this point," senior middie Ryan Chase said.
In 2017, Ramapo rallied from a three-goal deficit to win over Chatham at Cougar Field, taking the North Jersey, Group 2 crown.
That bitter defeat set the stage for Chatham's emotional 11-5 victory this year, as Mac Bredahl scored five goals and Chase and Ryan Decker connected for two goals apiece at Cougar Field.
"We played with poise today," Decker said. "There were a lot of memories in our mind after last year. We just wanted to go out there and play our game."
No. 2 seed Chatham (14-6) will travel to meet top-seeded Summit (16-2) Saturday to decide the North Jersey, Group 2 championship.
Ryan Chase, Ryan Decker and Mac Bredahl talk about the win and the upcoming meeting with Summit
The mantra from Chatham coach Tony Calandra all week was to "shoot the ball well" early in the game and to put their shots "in good spots."
Chase, Bredahl and the Deckers, Aidan and Ryan, followed that advice in the first quarter as Chatham moved to a 4-0 lead.
Chase got the Cougars started with a blast from up top (see below) off a feed from Bredahl.
After Bredahl converted a pass from Connor Byrd (3 assists) with a hard-angle shot to make it 2-0. The Cougars then received a "Double-Decker" with consecutive goals from sophomore Aidan Decker (see below) and Ryan Decker (see below) to make it 4-0 in the opening period.
In the second period, things continued to go Chatham's way. After Ramapo cut its deficit to 4-1, Cougar senior middie Jack Rooney was forced to leave the field because of a broken stick. That left Chatham a man down as Colin Hart sprinted onto the field in his place. But Chatham managed to turn the situation into a positive when James Ehler picked up a ground ball and passed to Hart for a start of a break in the other direction.
Hart carried into the offensive end and fed Bredahl, who put away the transition goal for a 5-1 Chatham advantage with 8:15 left in the second period.
Later in the second period, Hart set up another transition goal, passing to Chase for a goal that made it 6-2. Bredahl's goal off a pass from Byrd (see below) made it 7-2 for Chatham with 1:09 left in the first half.
Rooney played a big defensive role, guarding Jack Griffin (2 goals, 1 assist) of Ramapo.
"Rooney was so funny this game because he came off so tired," Chatham senior defender Chris Conlin said. "He was matched up with that kid, No. 7. He was exhausted, but he did a great job. It was fun watching him really grind out there. It was awesome."
Conlin, goalie Ryan Ness, and defenders Jake Wingate and Harrison Shi put together another stellar defensive effort.
"We're really stepping it up and playing a full 48 minutes," Conlin said. "We're learning to trust each other."
Bredahl dodged his way to this goal in the third period that staked Chatham to a 9-3 advantage
Bredahl puts away his fifth goal late in the fourth quarter to make it 10-5
COUGAR NOTES: Saturday's game with Summit will mark the fourth time in the last eight years the Cougars have met the Hilltoppers with a state crown on the line. Summit won a 5-overtime thriller, 7-6, in 2011 in the Group 2 state final; Chatham won the North Jersey, Group 2 final, 4-3, in 2013; Summit won the North Jersey, Group 2 final, 8-2, in 2015 ... Chatham's all-time leading scorer, Mac Bredahl, did not have a point in the 12-2 regular-season loss to Summit on April 11. It is the only game this season Bredahl has not had a goal or an assist ... Bredahl will take 108 points (58 goals, 50 assists) for the season into the Summit game ... Cougar senior middie Jack Rooney will be playing in his seventh sectional final (four in basketball and three in lacrosse), Bredahl and Chris Conlin will each be playing in their sixth sectional final (3 in basketball, 3 in lacrosse).