CHATHAM, NJ - After watching Thomas Berger score off a pass from Mac Bredahl midway through the second quarter, Chatham boys lacrosse coach Tony Calandra asked the rhetorical question: "He's pretty good, isn't he?"
Up to that point, Chatham had scored the first seven goals of the game, with junior attack Bredahl notching three goals and four assists on the way to a 14-1 season-opening win over Sparta on Wednesday at Cougar Field.
The "Mac Attack" connected for five goals and five assists to spark Chatham, including four goals and five assists by the time the Cougars took a 10-0 lead into the halftime break.
"He's a very unique player," Calandra said. "He's got the ability to score and then to make those around him better. He's got good vision. It's a nice way to start for him."
Bredahl's offensive outburst overshadowed the stingy play of Chatham's veteran defensive unit of long sticks Kyle Kology, Chris Conlin and Geoff O'Malley, who were complemented by long-stick middie Pat Cosgrove and defensive middie Timmy Adams. Chatham goalies Jack O'Neill and Ryan Ness had plenty of protection in allowing one goal.
Cosgrove set the tone early with a big hit on a Sparta player in the first quarter.
"We did our job," Calandra. "It's a veteran group down there. We've been through this before. Even though we had a tough preseason with the weather, we still got what we needed to get accomplished. We got in our five scrimmages. We felt fully prepared for the season."
An O'Malley clear led to Bredahl's first goal of the game, an unassisted tally on a move from behind the net (see below).
Frank Anello made it 3-0 late in the first quarter with a man-up goal off a feed from Bredahl before Connor Byrd fired in a shot set up by Bredahl with 57 seconds left in the opening quarter (see below).
Bredahl drew single coverage from Sparta from the start of the game and he made the Spartans pay for that strategy. His dodges had Sparta defenders spinning and falling to the ground, and he managed to slip away from coverage by running them into the net.
Bredahl opened the second quarter with an unassisted goal and then fed Evan Gavalalis for a finish that made it 6-0. Berger's goal pushed the advantage to 7-0 with 6:05 left in the half.
The Cougars made Sparta pay for a turnover in its own end when Anello converted for his second goal. Colin Hart scored on a shot from up top after receiving a pass from Bredahl, who then scored his fourth goal to make it 1-0 before the break.
Mac Bredahl scores one of his five goals for Chatham vs. Sparta
In the third quarter, Ryan Decker made a nice downhill run to the net and connected with Byrd, who finished his chance from close range to make it 11-0. Stelios Kroudis then scored a man-up goal to break up the shutout for Sparta.
Berger scored an unassisted goal with a downhill run he ended with a high fake and a low shot for a 12-1 bulge. Bredahl's fifth goal and Cole Krauss's tally made it 14-1.
Chatham plays host toi Morristown, 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Cougar Field.