CHATHAM, NJ - After losing three straight boys lacrosse games by one goal, Chatham is back in the win column.
The Cougars won handily by a score of 16-6 against Morristown-Beard (2-6) Saturday at Cougar Field.
Chatham (6-3) had lost consecutive one-goal games to Westfield, Seton Hall Prep and Delbarton. Still, Cougar coach Tony Calandra found a silver lining in the defeats vs. top-notch opponents.
“We lost three one-goal games to very good teams, and I told the team I still think we’re better after that than when we were 5-0,” Calandra said. “We improved, played harder, and got better."
Chatham did a great job of sharing the ball and getting everyone involved. Eleven players recorded at least one goal for the Cougars and 13 players recorded at least one point.
“We shared the ball nice today and we got a lot of guys to score,” Calandra said. "We got a lot of guys to play which is nice, and that’s the way it should be.”
Chatham opened up the scoring late in the first quarter when senior attacker Austin Pierce scored with 4:44 left on the clock. Four minutes later, with less than one minute left to play in the quarter, Matt Coleman scored to widen the lead to 2-0. Pierce finished with three goals and one assist, while Coleman finished with two goals.
Early in the second quarter, Chatham goalie Matt Nestler made a couple big saves, including a diving stop on a low shot. Ryan Decker scored shortly after to put Chatham up 3-0. Morristown-Beard would try to spark a comeback late in the second quarter by scoring back-to-back goals to cut Chatham’s lead to 3-2, but it would not be enough.
Chatham midfielder Thomas Berger went on a terrific run late in the second quarter and scored two goals in 33 seconds. The first was set up by a precise pass from Mac Bredahl, who was behind the net. The second was scored after Berger juked his way past multiple defenders to give himself a wide open shot.
One minute later, Berger set up Pierce’s second goal of the game. Chatham added one more goal from Will Hoesbein, who scored with 14.9 seconds to go into the half with a 7-3 lead.
Chatham opened the second half with great ball movement which led to Bredahl’s first goal. Hoesbein won the face off and passed the ball to Coleman, who then passed to Pierce, who found a wide open Bredahl on the side of the net for the goal.
Pierce scored what may have been the goal of the game midway through the third quarter. He received a pass in front when two Morristown-Beard defenders went to check him off the ball. Pierce ripped a shot as he fell to the ground, which found the back of the net, giving Chatham a 9-4 lead. Bredahl and Coleman connected for their second goals of the game later in the quarter to put Chatham up 11-4.
“It was a great goal by Austin,” Calandra said. “He was definitely able to finish, which was nice.”
Chatham defender Kyle Kology made a great defensive play in the beginning of the fourth quarter to obtain possession for his team. He locked down a Morristown-Beard attacker and forced him out of bounds behind Chatham’s net. On the ensuing possession, Timmy Adams scored on a fast break.
Chatham would add four more goals later in the fourth period from Kevin Whiteman, Frank Anello, Max Schelling and Jack Byrd, to win the game by a final score of 16-6. Whiteman also added two assists.
Chatham goalie Nestler made six saves on 11 shots. Backup goalies Ryan Ness and Jack O’Neill also saw some time in net towards the end of the game. Both made one save, and O’Neill allowed one goal.
Chatham will look to stay hot when it takes on West Essex (3-5) in their next game, Wednesday at West Essex High School.